Wycombe Wanderers’ & Building Futures’ Students SET for Success

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The term ‘working together’ perfectly sums up the recent Enterprise Challenge held at Adams Park, home to League One side Wycombe Wanderers.

Wycombe Wanderers Sports Education Trust (SET), Building Futures Bucks and a local High Wycombe business partner came together to deliver a The Apprentice style enterprise challenge at the football ground for a group of local young people.

The week-long programme was specifically designed to meet the needs of six young people who were not in employment, education or training (NEET). All six successfully attended each day and completed the course with flying colours.

At the helm, supporting the young people was Wycombe Wanderers’ very own member of the educational trust and captain Mark Heath, and taking up all the spaces on the wing, covering all things employability was Building Futures Bucks’ Katie Allen.

In the two weeks leading up to the project, Melvin (HLC) and Katie Allen (Building Futures) completed four days of group sessions with the young people, focusing on employability. Topics covered included: goal setting and motivation, options for the future, skills and talents, CV writing, applying for jobs, interview skills and behaviour in the workplace. 

The programme kicked off with a group visit to Soundsorba Ltd, a High Wycombe based company specialising in the manufacturing of acoustic sound panels. The morning was hosted by the company’s director Mr Manir Hussain who gave the students an overview of the company, the business and the general day to day workings. The students were shown the workshop area and explained the logistics of a company which has just won a contract to supply panels for the forthcoming World Cup venues in Qatar.

Back at Adams Park, the students were given the opportunity to tell the group members about themselves, their hobbies and interests. This helped to identify their skills and talents and also shine a light on the roles they could play in the enterprise task.

The participants had to adapt quickly to the pace of the week’s course and contributed both individually and collectively to the segments of work which included idea generation, branding and logo design, marketing, identifying the target market, SWOT analysis and finance.

The students were divided into two groups and were competing against one another to come up with a business idea and development model which they then had to pitch against each other, in front of a group of judges.

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Prior to the students’ business pitches, the Mayor of Wycombe took time out of his mayoral duties to visit the project and congratulate the students on their hard work, which was very much appreciated by the staff and young people.

The presentations were delivered with each young person contributing to the pitch and outlining their businesses from concept to reality. They presented two completely contrasting but excellent ideas relating to the security services and a pet care business. The wait had been worth it not only because of the outstanding and professional business ideas but also to see the change and development in the individuals taking part.

The judging panel included Mr Manir Hussain from Soundsorba Ltd; Joseph West (Engagement Officer, Building Futures) and Katie Allen (Senior Keyworker, for Building Futures) along with Michael Davies – General Manager for Wycombe Wanderers.

There was a great sense of pride and achievement from the young people, and both ideas received high praise from Manir Hussain and Michael Davies, which in itself was a great endorsement coming from business industry professionals.

“The group really gelled during the initial sessions and openly shared all their ideas and supported one another… It was great to see the participants’ confidence grow from the initial group sessions to the final presentation. Projects like this are vital to enable young people to develop the team work skills required for employment. You can see two people who on the face of it have nothing in common, come together to achieve a common goal, despite their perceived differences. It was also good to deliver a project that wasn’t solely focused on employability, but rather a project that gave participants the experience of being in work and having responsibility for a project and tasks with a deadline!”

Karen Allen, Senior Keyworker Building Futures Bucks 

“The working relationship between Building Futures and Wycombe Wanderers Sports Education Trust has really set up the participants for a successful future. Building Futures’ pre-course delivery really complemented our own programme, setting participants up so they were able to really engage with The Apprentice themed challenge and get the most out of the course.  Due to the ease and success of this first course we have run in partnership with Building Futures, we hope to build on our relationship and partner again in the future.” 

Mark Heath, Wycombe Wanderers Sports and Education Trust

Finally, just before the match against Charlton Athletic, the participants were commended for their hard work and dedication on the course and presented with certificates for their attendance and achievement.

Wycombe Wanderers also supported some of the students by giving them opportunities to work as stewards for some upcoming home games. Now that’s a great result!

The Building Futures programme focuses on changing the lives of adults and young people across Buckinghamshire and is part of the Building Better Opportunities programme funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.

Sharon Brown