A football fanatic in Torbay has taken his first steps on the career ladder after overcoming social and anxiety issues, with the help of a nationwide sports initiative.
Owen Lethbridge, 17, was offered a role as a session worker with So-Fly, an organisation running social sport sessions for local residents through Sanctuary Housing’s Love Sport initiative.
Owen’s journey with So-Fly
After taking part in the sessions for six months, Owen expressed a desire to start volunteering and to help train the young people.
After a volunteering for a further six months, Owen had developed his skills and built strong relationships with the youngsters taking part, and was subsequently offered a job with So-Fly.
Now, around a month into his employment, Owen is running So-Fly sessions in Watcombe and undergoing training to further develop his skills.
“Helping young people have a better life”
Owen said: “Playing and working alongside the So-Fly team has changed me as a person and let me do things I couldn’t before. I used to just attend the sessions and not be able to socialise because I was too nervous, but now I am able to talk to the young people as well as do some youth work.
“So-Fly lets me do two things I love most, which is helping people and playing sport. These were the main reasons I joined in the first place, that and knowing you’re helping young people have a better life. It cheers you up when you’re not having the best of times.”
“Provide opportunities to residents of all ages”
Lynne Roberts, Sanctuary’s neighbourhood partnerships manager, added: “The purpose of Love Sport is to provide opportunities to residents of all ages to get active and develop their skills through the medium of sport. Owen is a shining example of the success of the programme and he should be very proud of the journey he has been on, from taking part to volunteering to employee. As well as developing vital social skills and overcoming his nerves to engage with the young people, he has developed into a great role model and we wish him well for the future.”
Sanctuary’s Love Sport programme
The So-Fly sessions are part of Sanctuary’s wider Love Sport programme, a partnership with Sport England, which aims to engage more than 2,250 people in sport and fitness activities in neighbourhoods across the country. Over 160 residents have already participated in Love Sport activities in Torbay alone.
Sanctuary’s investment in the five-year programme has been match-funded by Sport England, through National Lottery investment, to help deliver the sport and activity sessions.