When Ben started working with the team at Camden Council, his anxiety was so severe he found it hard to walk through the front doors of the building. Three years later, after completing Levels 2 and 3 of the Sports Leadership programme, he is at the start of an internship to provide coaching support in primary schools.
“I was lost back then. I wasn’t happy,” says Ben. “I had no clue what I wanted to do and Covid had changed school for me. I felt like I was miles behind where I was meant to be, so when it came to exams, it just felt like I was being asked questions about lots of stuff I had never seen before.”
Ben started with Lee Davis, mentor and NVQ Officer at Borough of Camden Council. With Lee’s support, Ben began the Level 2 Sports Leadership qualification with a cohort of his peers. During the course of the programme, he gained confidence and his levels of anxiety began to reduce.
“Ben used to bottle things up when he first started with us,” says Lee. “Now, he’ll come to me and talk something through. It took a few months, and it was gradual, but the difference between the person who started the qualification and Ben today is unbelievable.”
The impact of leadership programmes
“If it were up to me, every school would offer Sports Leadership,” says Lee. “It’s that impactful. In our current intake of students, over 70 per cent are on Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), have Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND), are in care or are care leavers. This figure has grown dramatically in the last few years. We need to be able to support these young people to go into their futures with confidence. These qualifications are a key part of our programme to help them do that.”
Lee continues, “We’ve had to find workarounds to secure funding for Ben to do his next course, which we know will help him to build on the skills he’s established through Sports Leadership. But these qualifications are just as important as an NVQ or GCSE. I see the students change as they start to take ownership of the work and increase their self-worth. I can see them grow in confidence and become more employable.”
Ben’s next steps
After completing the Level 2 Sports Leadership qualification, Ben continued on to Level 3. He is now at the beginning of an internship, where he plans to continue his personal and professional development.
“I’m going to be doing a Physical Education, School Sport and Physical Activity (PESSPA) professional qualification alongside my internship because I want to keep doing this work – it makes me happy,” says Ben. “I have seen the struggle my brothers and sisters have had to find work, and even when they do, they don’t really enjoy it. I don’t want that.
“I want to keep working with the younger students,” he continues, “I know how to engage with them and to see when they are struggling and help them. That’s what I think the future looks like for me.”