A NEW sports programme is offering young people facing life on the dole the chance to kick-start a new career.
Street League has teamed up with North Tyneside Council to deliver football and education programmes to some of the most disadvantaged young people in the UK.
One of the first to benefit from the scheme in the region was Mark Berry, from Gateshead.
The 21-year-old turned his life around by becoming one of the charity’s coaches, and he is now encouraging others aged 16 to 25 to get involved.
He said: “I used to be a painter and decorator, but I was made redundant. For three weeks, I was stuck at home and didn’t know what I was going to do.
“The work gave me a direction and purpose, and after nine months of doing the course, I got a job coaching sessions, and I haven’t looked back.”
So far, 72 young North Tynesiders have signed up for programmes.
An academy programme runs for eight weeks, 15 hours a week, and involves a mix of football and fitness training and careers advice and support.
John Robinson, of North Shields, is one of those currently taking part in the scheme.
He said: “The programme is really good. I’ve come along to the training for a few months now, and it’s done wonders for my self esteem.
“When you’re stuck in the house without a job, it can really get you down.
“Taking part in the scheme opens doors, and with the qualifications I will be able to take, I hope to work towards becoming a sports coach.”
For more information, call Connexions North Tyneside on (0191) 290 0411 or Street League on 0754 012 6015 or visit www.streetleague.co.uk
Young people are also invited to drop in at sessions held at the Soccerdome in North Shields on Mondays from 2pm to 4pm.