Sunday 10 November 2013
Volunteers and youngsters who take part in MU Foundation's Ordsall Street Reds project had a pleasant surprise when Manchester United winger Ashley Young visited them last month during the international break.
"It's great that the volunteers help the younger ones"
Street Reds, which is part-funded by the Premier League, is a community cohesion scheme run for 8-18 year-olds at eight different venues across Manchester. The projects run at times when young people are in need of diversionary activities.
Volunteering is a big part of Street Redswith 20 volunteers giving around 100 hours across Greater Manchester every week. After attending for a period of time, youngsters are encouraged to assist in running the sessions, which raises their confidence and gives them a pathway to coaching qualifications and access to other opportunities offered through the Foundation.
Young joined the youngsters for a kickabout at Ordsall, which is near to Old Trafford, as well as demonstrating his skills and answering questions on his career.
"It's good to come down and see the work the Club is doing in the community," Young said. "It's nice to see the kids who are giving up their time each week volunteering. It's a fantastic set-up, I wish it was something that I had when I was younger and it's great that the volunteers help the younger ones."
Dawn Bracegirdle, community cohesion manager for the Foundation, highlighted the importance of the project giving young people something constructive to do.
"It’s such an inspiring thing for young people to see their heroes right here, on their doorsteps"
"It's organised, it's fun and it's safe and it's a great opportunity for young people to come together and get active," she said. "It also means they are not doing other things in their communities that maybe they shouldn’t be.
"It's such an inspiring thing for young people to see their heroes right here, on their doorsteps; we are almost in the shadow of the stadium here at Ordsall and to see someone like Ashley Young and have him meet them and interact with them is so, so, powerful."
Chris Noble, head coach at Salford, gave examples of how the Street Reds project has helped the area and can empower young people.
"I've lived on Ordsall Estate for a long time," Noble said. "When we were growing up it was really bad. There was violence and shootings. You couldn’t play anywhere. It has changed a lot now and projects like Street Reds and have had a big impact on that.
"We have three young lads who have volunteered for a while now and two of them have just been made ball boys at Old Trafford. It gives them opportunities.
"These are just normal kids who grew up on the Ordsall Estate, so it inspires other kids, it gives them something tangible to think, 'Hang on, if he can do that, why can't I?'"
All clubs’ in the Barclays Premier League have community organisations operating projects similar to MU Foundation’s Street Reds, you can find out more about what they offer from their websites (see above right).