A football-mad pair of brothers from Yorkshire have got the ball rolling on their dream careers this year by starting a traineeship at Town.
Local lads Kallum and Kai are two of the latest success stories to emerge from national charity United Response's ‘My Pathway, My Employment' programme – a dedicated 1:1 employment support service which helps people with learning disabilities or autism find work in North Yorkshire.
Kallum (23) and Kai (20) are lifelong fans, Kallum has joined the grounds team in carrying out maintenance before, during and after every home game while Kai has been learning all-things customer service and retail whilst working with club staff.
Their journey began when United Response job coach Stephen Jackson was made aware of Harrogate Town starting traineeship programmes. Having been out of work for around two years, the boys were presented the perfect opportunity and both jumped at the chance.
Stephen has already noted the positive effects of their traineeships – reporting a rise in confidence and a reduction in anxiety in the pair.
Kallum said: “It's a proud moment to be given the opportunity to start a traineeship for the club that I support and help it grow. It's good for people with special needs to gain experience of the working world that they can use in future.”
Kai added: “I feel privileged to gain skills and experience with the club which could open up further opportunities for me. I think the support from Stephen has been really helpful and useful. It's good for people with special needs to gain experience in work.”
But it is not only the boys themselves who are feeling the benefits of the arrangement. Iain Service, Community Development Manager at Harrogate Town AFC has enjoyed seeing the progress that Kallum and Kai have shown.
He said: ‘It has been fantastic to welcome Kallum and Kai to the club. They have both shown a tremendous amount of commitment and willingness to learn. Over the last few weeks they have developed skills and knowledge that will help them in their future careers. We are excited to look at ways in which the traineeship can lead to further job opportunities for the pair.”
With the traineeships almost in full swing as lockdown and restrictive measures become closer to winding down this summer, job coach Stephen has been able to reflect on the purpose and success of the charity's programme. He said:
"The whole project is about moving forward and enabling the jobseeker to have more confidence, especially in the current circumstances. There are some jobs out there but they aren't always suitable for disabled people, so there is a real need for a programme like ours which focuses on people with disabilities can bring to an organisation – likewise what support and training they require.
“I know how well this has worked out for the lads as they are already setting themselves new goals – the latest of which is trying to get me, a Leeds fan, to go to a Harrogate game with them!”
Disability charity United Response works with local employers across Yorkshire to understand the needs of disabled people, overcome any potential worries or problems, and help create a positive and effective environment for prospective jobseekers.
To find out more about how United Response is working to transform the lives of people with learning disabilities in Yorkshire and across the country, visit www.unitedresponse.org.uk.