Press release from Sunderland AFC
Black Cats boss Mick McCarthy will be joined by Minister of State for
School Standards David Miliband MP for the unveiling of ‘Kickstart’ an
exciting outreach project developed in partnership with the Coalfields
Regeneration Trust and Sunderland AFC Foundation.
At the heart of the delivery of ‘Kickstart’ is ‘The Black Cat Express’ a
double-decker fully equipped mobile learning facility that will work for
an initial 3-year period throughout Sunderland to raise motivation and
educational attainment and encourage the hardest to reach young people
into learning by using football as a catalyst.
The SAFC branded double-decker bus is kitted out with IT equipment
including 15 state of the art computers and multi-media resources and
will be staffed by newly recruited SAFC Foundation staff including a
youth worker, health worker and teacher, as well as an SAFCommunity
football coach. Activities will involve basic skills, citizenship,
health, environment and football coaching and will be in collaboration
with schools and youth groups.
The ‘Black Cat Express’ will aim to visit a different school each day
and youth and community groups in the evening, working with over 50,000
young people between the ages of 5 and 19 throughout the City of
Sunderland over the initial three years. The project will offer support
to youngsters who have a lack of ambition and no desire to ‘move on’
Basic skills will be taught by the dedicated teacher, through the
onboard computing facilities. The health and youth worker will deliver
specially designed workshops in the Health, Environment and Citizenship
modules of the national curriculum within the classroom or youth group
and football coaching sessions will be held on playing fields, in
community halls or using a mobile SAFC inflatable pitch. Each day over
150 young people will benefit from the unique learning experience
offered by the SAFC Foundation staff.
Commenting on the project Black Cats Boss, Mick McCarthy said;
“This is an innovative project and I’m delighted to offer my support. I
have been very impressed by the unique work of the SAFC Foundation and
I’m sure that The Black Cat Express will be of great benefit to our
Minister of State for Schools David Miliband MP added;
“Sunderland AFC Foundation uses a distinctive character that is creative
and attractive in engaging young people in education and helps to
realise learning can fulfil dreams. Education goes beyond the classroom
and that diversity of provision is essential to ensure that all children
are able to achieve more than they ever thought. By working in
partnership this can happen.”
Says Ken Greenfield, Trustee for The Coalfields Regeneration Trust;
“The Coalfields Regeneration Trust through its national ‘Regenerate’
programme wanted to undertake a major project across the whole of
Sunderland that would attract additional funding and make an impact on
the lives of young people. We hope The Black Cat Express and other
Kickstart initiatives will stimulate youth activity, energy, and
motivation and encourage young people and their families into learning.”
Other supporters include The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Tyne and Wear
Learning and Skills Council, The Go-Ahead Group and Nexus.
Chair of the project’s Steering Committee, Michael Elsy stated;
“Kickstart will provide a unique opportunity to fulfil the potential
young people have by using the excitement of football, the flexibility
of a mobile project and the professionalism of a multi-skilled team.
This is an exciting opportunity that will add to the valuable services
for young people already operating within the city.”
SAFC Foundation aim to fundraise for the ongoing continuation of the
Black Cat Express beyond the initial three-year period and plans to
develop a second bus to go out into communities and meet further demand.
* Sunderland AFC Foundation was established in November
2001 to demonstrate a serious commitment to the community by Sunderland
Association Football Club by further developing and expanding the
existing SAFCommunity scheme, which has been working in local areas for
over ten years. Sunderland AFC Foundation is the charity, which
harnesses the power of football and uses it to increase the motivation
and educational attainment of young people throughout our great region.
* The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) is an
independent agency, committed to achieving social and economic
regeneration in the former coalfield areas of England, Scotland and
* CRT is one of the UK’s most significant and effective
investors in coalfield communities, having funded local groups to the
value of nearly £75m since its launch in 1999.
* The Learning and Skills Council is responsible for all
post-16 education in England – other than the university sector –
including the planning and funding of further education colleges; school
sixth forms; work based training for young people; workforce
development; adult and community learning; information, advice and
guidance for adults; and education business links.