The job prospects for young people in Burnley have been hit hard by coronavirus, but Burnley FC's employability programme "Moor for your Future" is giving the town's youth hope for the future.
"Attendance on the programme has been 100 per cent, which tells us a lot," says Alison Malcolm, employability manager at Burnley FC in the Community (BFCitC). "There was a real appetite for an employability programme like this in Burnley at this time."
Since the pandemic in March almost a third of the Lancashire town's workforce has been furloughed for at least three weeks, the second-highest ratio in England.
Young people are suffering in particular. Lancashire County Council data says 40 per cent of September 2020's high school graduates in the area are without a destination.
Moor for your Future started last month with sessions for the 28 participants aged 16-25 at the club's Turf Moor stadium as well as outdoor activities.
Week 3⃣ of our Moor for your future programme ⬇️— Burnley FC Community (@BurnleyFC_Com) October 30, 2020
Our participants had a great time at @WhitehoughOC, taking part in the obstacle course, low ropes & problem solving activities.
🌧️ The group didn't let the weather stop their fun! pic.twitter.com/oedH8BLsCO
"Since the programme started, the body language and enthusiasm of the young people involved has improved," Malcolm says. "You can feel their confidence growing and you can see this in their interaction with each other."
After lockdown, the sessions now happen virtually and aim to nurture young people's self-esteem as they adapt to the "new normal", while also helping them gain the skills they need to find employment.
"Their mental and physical wellbeing is improving," Malcom adds. "Through the activities and the workshops they are beginning to feel that they have a future and a purpose.
"They have had a taste and a flavour of what it feels like to grow and they will come back from this second lockdown stronger.
"These young people have a future and we'll be there supporting them along the way."
"Through the activities the youngsters are beginning to feel they have a future and a purpose"
"Moor for your future" is funded by the Premier League and Professional Footballers' Association Fund, Barclays, VEKA and Great Places, and is delivered in partnership with Burnley College, Burnley Together and Lancashire Adult Learning.
"Projects like this have never been more important and so we are proud to work with BFCitC and other stakeholders to enable young people to enhance their wellbeing and build a better future for themselves," says Nick Perchard, the Premier League's Head of Community.