Former Education Secretary lends a hand


Baroness Estelle Morris supporting 'Back on Track'

A group of teenage jobseekers, who are boosting their skills with the help of a North East charity, have received the support of a leading education expert.

Former education secretary Baroness Estelle Morris met the 10 young people currently enrolled on the Foundation of Light’s Back on Track programme during a special visit to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.

The Foundation is Sunderland AFC’s official charity and the 30-week course is designed to help improve the young people’s chances of finding employment by improving their work and life skills and providing them with relevant qualifications.

During the course of her visit, Baroness Morris, a pro-vice chancellor of the University of Sunderland, talked to the group – all aged between 16 and 19 - about politics, citizenship and the issues that affect them.

“It’s heartening to meet so many young people who haven’t just given up but are keen to develop themselves and make something of their lives,” she said.

“The Foundation of Light’s fantastic work with schools is well documented but I think it is of equal importance that we continue to offer those, who are not of school age, opportunities to reach their potential.

“This programme is just one such opportunity and I applaud how hard the Foundation and the football club work to ensure these opportunities exist.”

The Back on Track Study Programme is aimed at people who are unemployed, part time employed or not in education or training and 18-year-old Josh Allan is one of those taking part.

“I’ve taken part in Foundation programmes before,” he said, “and I’m hoping that this helps me get the qualifications, skills and experience I need to get a career.

“It was good for Baroness Estelle to visit us because it gives her a better understanding of the challenges we’re up against.

Project Coordinator Allen Hall added, “The course participants will be taking part in activities which fall under the government’s education, citizenship and health agendas which Baroness Estelle gave them great insight into. A lot of young people we work with often feel disengaged from politics and broader society but the visit really helped bring these topics to life for those on the programme.

The project is one of a number of community-based projects and training programmes implemented by the Foundation of Light, which works with around 42,000 of the region’s young people and families every year.

The Back on Track Study Programme is funded by Springboard and South Tyneside ACL.

For more information, email or call 0191 551 5191.