Almost 100 Street League staff gathered in Manchester for two days at the charity’s annual National Staff Conference.

Street League is the charity which uses the power of football to tackle youth unemployment, and is rapidly expanding across the UK. Each year staff gather to celebrate their achievements and share best practice.

Chief Executive Matt Stevenson-Dodd explained: “At the Staff Conference, we have been celebrating Street League’s transformation into a national movement of people who believe in the power of football to change lives.

“Street League has grown 40% over the past 12 months, and is now operating out of 13 regions across England and Scotland. We’re also very excited to be opening in Northern Ireland soon.”

The number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work has fallen to 817,000, according to figures published by the National Office of Statistics. The overall decrease has been linked to a recovering economy, but Matt warned of the dangers of “forgetting” about those affected by structural youth unemployment in the communities hit hardest by the recession over the last few years.

EXPANSION

“The headlines will talk about youth unemployment decreasing, but we have known for several years that even in a booming economy, a minimum of seven to nine per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds are out of work,” he said.

“Currently around 100,000 of those young people have been out of work for more than two years, and almost a quarter of a million for 12 months or more.

“If left unaddressed, the impact of being unemployed at that age can scar a young person for life – whether it is decreasing their earning capacity in the future, physical inactivity, low self-esteem, or even getting mixed up in anti-social behaviour.”

Last year 81% of Street League Academy graduates moved into employment, education or training and it is predicted that, for the first time, the charity will support over 1000 young people into a positive destination over the next 12 months, with the total set to rise significantly each year thereafter. The current target is 5000 by 2017. 

Matt said: “Street League is growing quickly. We are thrilled to have the likes of Barclays and Sport Relief funding our expansion into Middlesbrough, Birmingham and Leeds; BT Sport and their ‘Supporters Club’ are helping us open in Sheffield soon, while thanks to the award of our biggest public sector contract yet from Skills Development Scotland, we are also expanding rapidly north of the border.”

CONNECT

Stephen Hughes, Street League Operations Manager for Manchester, planned and delivered the Staff Conference with his team. The packed schedule included workshops on coaching, Progressions, quality and performance benchmarking, and how to connect with local employers, young people, partner organisations and the media.

There was also plenty of fun with gameshows and a disco in the evening, plus a treasure hunt around Manchester city centre and a keenly-contested football match in which Street League Scotland trounced Street League England 9-1. See more pictures here.

Stephen said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to host everyone across Street League in Manchester. It is such a great feeling to know we have a large staff team across the UK who have a common goal in helping to put an end to structural youth unemployment and I hope the energy created over the past few days lives long with everyone as we go back to our regions.” 

This week Matt was named by Society Guardian as one of the most five most influential people on Twitter with regards to isolation and underemployment. Click here to read the article by Ruth Hardy.