Welcome back to our ‘Diary of a Season’ feature where we catch up with staff, participants and trustees from the Wolves Foundation to find out what they have been up to over the last year.
This week we carry the third and final instalments from our regular diarists, as well as catching up with one of our trustees.
First of all, we hear again from Luke Shearing, Inclusion & Cohesion Manager with the Foundation – if you haven’t seen his previous instalments click here to catch up with his first and here for his second.
Welcome to the third entry of my Foundation Diary series. In what has been a busy period at the Foundation it’s been great to return to what seems like normality, well compared to the last 18 months anyway!
There’s only one place I can really start this instalment. In May I was lucky enough to meet The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, when they attended one of our Premier League funded sessions to discuss youth mental health.
It was probably the most surreal couple of hours of my life to date. When I arrived for the session all I knew was that a special guest was going to be attending, little did I know it was going to be the future King!
As they walked through the doors, there was a moment of silence and I remember looking around at all the security thinking to myself: ‘Is this actually happening’.
In all honesty, there was no need to be nervous because both William and Kate were fantastic and made time to talk to everyone. It was really amazing to talk to them about the work we have been doing with young people on a daily basis to help them through the pandemic and back to normal life.
My real takeaways from this opportunity were just how much they both genuinely cared about the work we were doing but also just how normal they were. At times it was just like having a conversation about football with your mates down the pub.
There was just enough time to have a bit of a kickabout with William and get a few pictures that my Mum has been showing anyone that will listen to her! I won’t be forgetting the day I did ‘keepy uppy’s’ with Prince William any time soon!
I could ramble on about that day for hours on end but I think I had better talk about some of the excellent work the Inclusion and Cohesion team have been doing out in the community over the last three months.
This includes my favourite working day of the year, ‘Play on the Pitch Day’! We had the opportunity to have an afternoon at Molineux to invite our PL Kicks, Kicks Targeted and Wolves Disability FC participants to come and play on the hallowed turf.
It’s always great to be able to reward our participants for their hard work and progress. The sun was out, the music was playing and everywhere I turned there were people smiling and having the best time. We even had some of our friends from West Midlands Police come down for the afternoon to referee our Kicks tournament! Be sure to head to the Foundations YouTube channel to check out some videos from the day.
As I have mentioned previously the PL Kicks and PL Kicks Targeted projects work with some of the City’s most vulnerable young people, including some that have ended up getting into trouble with the Police. For this reason, it is hugely important that we, as a team, build a strong relationship with West Midlands Police in order to help break down the barriers and any stigma between the young people and the local officers.
As part of this process we have been lucky enough to start going out on patrols with the local police units in Wolverhampton. We go with them to local hotspots of anti-social behaviour and talk to the young people about our projects and how they can get involved.
Since we started this we have seen an even bigger uptake on our Kicks sessions and it’s been great to see so many young people go from causing trouble to spending their Friday evenings playing football in a safe, secure and sociable environment.
I am also really excited about our summer plans with ‘Kicks in the Park’ returning for the school holidays with lots of new activities planned which is great news both for those attending and our staff!
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention our Wolves Disability FC teams who have been back in training for a couple of months now. I always enjoy going along on a Wednesday evening and seeing them in action, hearing all about their days as well as their very strong-minded views on Wolves.
It’s an exciting period for our Disability set-up as they head into a new league from September after being without competitive football since the start of the pandemic. We are all looking forward to seeing them back in action and if you or anyone you know might be interested in joining one of our Wolves Disability teams please email email@example.com for more information.
That’s all from me this time, have a fantastic summer, stay safe and see you soon.