Duncan Bailey is a Youth and Community Coach at Street League, a leading sport for employment charity where young people aged 14-24 across the UK get the vital support needed to reach their goals and move into work, education or training. To celebrate UK Coaching Week 2023, Duncan reflects on his work as a coach and the impact of Street League’s programmes.
“It was a grey day in London when I met Mark*, a young man who had just left school and was struggling to find his place in the world. He had been in some trouble with the law and rival gangs in the area, and he didn’t see a way out of the negative path he was heading down. As a Youth and Community Coach for Street League, I had seen this scenario many times before. It can be tough for young people to find their way, but I knew that we could help.
“Mark and I talked about his interests and ambitions, as well as his struggles. He was passionate about football and loved being active. I encouraged him to think about the transferable skills that he gains from playing sport, such as teamwork, communication, and resilience. These skills are invaluable in many workplaces, and I knew that we could help him to build on them in an environment that suited him. Over the next few months, Mark joined our programme and started to gain confidence in his abilities. He was completing his Maths and English as well as our sport qualifications. It was easy to see that Street league was the positive distraction he needed.
“Mark had lacked positive role models throughout his life. Many young people who approach Street League have nowhere else to turn for guidance and support, and as an organisation we strive to offer a fresh perspective. Staff members are invested in their success, and this kind of care can help these individuals trust and believe in themselves again. Mark became a regular attendee and actively participated in our sports sessions, achieving goals in both the classroom and the field. He also established new friendships and exhibited leadership skills among his peers. Furthermore, he began to contemplate his future and set goals for himself.
“After gaining his qualifications with us, with our support, Mark applied for a place in college to study a BTEC in sport and was successful in securing a place. A few years on, he’s now heading to university to complete his degree and using the skills that he gained through sport to excel in studies and beyond.”
Street League has received more £6 million in funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, awarded by Postcode Active Trust. The charity believes that every young person deserves the opportunity to reach their potential and works with individuals who face significant obstacles to employment or education. Offering a range of free programmes Street League uses sport as a tool to engage, build confidence, and help people develop the skills that they need to succeed and thrive.
Mark's story is just one example of the positive impact that sport and coaching can have on young people's lives.
In 2022, Street League supported 1,101 young people into a positive destination: 601 into employment, 236 into education, and 264 into training. For each of those statistics there’s a story to share, like Harry from Leeds who is now an apprentice electrician, Rebecca from Dundee who is doing a business management course at college, and Sean from Glasgow who moved into his new career in sports coaching.
Duncan continued: “I'm proud to be a part of an organisation and more so, a part of fantastic team of people who genuinely care, they are making a real difference in the lives of young people across the UK. Our coaches as well as all delivery staff are passionate, dedicated, and committed to helping young people achieve their dreams. And we couldn't do it without the support of players of People's Postcode Lottery. The funding enables us to reach more young people and provide them with the opportunities that they deserve.”
Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “Duncan has had a huge impact on Mark’s life and he’s not the only coach who is making a lasting impression on so many of the young people involved in Street League. Every coach and every member of the Street League team is helping to create positive change across the country and I am thrilled that player support is allowing them to reach even more young people in need.”
A good coach is more than just a teacher; they serve as a positive role model, a source of support and encouragement, and a committed ally in helping their team achieve their goals. As UK Coaching Week 2023 approaches, it is important to celebrate the crucial role that coaching plays in empowering young people to reach their full potential. Coaches like Duncan, dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of young people, serve as an example of the impact that coaching can have beyond the realm of sports. Through building relationships, fostering resilience, and unlocking potential, coaches have the ability to make a lasting impact on the lives of those they work with. By supporting the vital work of Street League, players of People’s Postcode Lottery are creating positive change in communities across the UK.
*This young person’s name has been changed for privacy and security reasons.