Doncaster Rovers Community Sports and Education Foundation have been working with the NHS and Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council to deliver an education programme for people directly affected by drug and alcohol problems in the region. The Sky Bet Championship team have become the first football club in the country to actively run the multi-skills course, designed to engage and educate adults who have had issues with substance misuse to help build a better future.
The course is structured to enable learners to acquire a wide range of new skills and enhance their pathways to employment and further training. The foundation encourages people on the programme to make positive life choices, while also helping to improve their confidence and happiness. Throughout previous courses, Doncaster Rovers have offered individuals who excelled on the course work experience within the club, as well as linking learners on to other local businesses, such as Doncaster Cultural Leisure Trust and Doncaster Wildlife Park.
NHS drug and alcohol services in Doncaster refer clients on to the two-month programme, which takes place three days a week at the Keepmoat Stadium. The foundation has been running the scheme for two years, overseeing an 80 per cent completion rate over four courses, which continue to both improve and be successful.
‘The course is innovative and not only gives clients of drug and alcohol services accredited qualifications, but works on their motivation to change and feel part of a team to build confidence,’ said public health improvement officer for substance misuse in Doncaster, Andrew Collins. ‘It’s great to see individuals who have shied away from conventional education really embrace the programme and not want the course to end.’
There are several vocational and non-vocational areas of study selected for the programme. These qualifications are chosen because of the proven success they have had with providing learners with employment, further education and training.
Qualifications include Sports Leaders UK level 1 and 2 awards in sports leadership and emergency first aid. Other activities include team and confidence building, along with basic literacy, numeracy and computer skills. All of these areas give learners the ability to set targets for life which are key features of the multi-skills course.
Alongside working with the participants on attaining qualifications, the foundation also offers a support network. The club provides support for personal issues over the course of eight weeks and has helped the groups overcome barriers to studying and employment.
Project co-ordinator at the Doncaster Rovers Community Sports and Education Foundation, Sam Parkin, said of the initiative, ‘Over the past two years, we have successfully delivered four multi-skills programmes to a total of 50 participants. The course is designed to develop a wide range of transferable skills suitable for many employment pathways.
‘We have had countless success stories since the course’s inception, with several of the learners going on to gain full-time employment. Alongside the achievement of nationally recognised qualifications, it is wonderful to see the participants regain their confidence and develop as individuals as the course progresses.’
During their time on the course, learners are asked to score several areas of their life on a scale of one to ten. This is completed on the first and last week of the programme, to see if there has been an improvement in health, happiness, career prospects and ability to cope with alcohol and drugs.
Answers to the questions have shown a clear improvement in each of the specified areas at the end of the course, compared to at the start. Over previous courses, there has been a significant improvement in all areas, particularly in the learners’ confidence. This indicates that the participants give their full commitment to the course, proving that the multi-skills programme is having a positive effect on them.
John Northridge, who took part in the latest programme, said, ‘This course has helped me so much. When I started it I didn’t know what to expect but my confidence has improved and the goals in my life have changed from none to loads! The tutor Sam Parkin helped me lots, making me feel welcome from the start to the end.’
For more information on the education programme, visit www.drfc-community.co.uk