City of Liverpool
Street soccer- tackling youth homelessness
Street soccer uses football as a catalyst to improve the lives of vulnerable and homeless young people in the Merseyside area. Most of the groups that the project is delivered to are currently homeless and living a hostel, at risk of homelessness or have been homeless in the past.
The project commenced in May 2019 and provides development programmes for vulnerable and homeless 16-24 year olds across Liverpool; offering them a fusion of professional football training, positive mindset coaching and employability-driven workshops. In Liverpool, both LFC Foundation and The Street Soccer Foundation co-delivered the Street Soccer Academy at Anfield Stadium.
The Street Soccer Foundation, raised funds through its award-winning corporate initiative, Goal 17. Local companies who adopted the Goal 17 initiative were guided through an employee mentoring programme, which saw members of staff buddied up with a young person to mentor and support throughout a 10-week process. Liverpool FC staff also supported the programme, with employee volunteers coaching and mentoring local young people during the course.
The sessions consisted of a 90-minute football session. The focus of this was on developing the participant’s physical and mental wellbeing as well as looking at key themes such as resilience, communication & decision making which are transferable into daily life and future employment.
The Street Soccer Foundation also provided the group with coaching tasks further on in the programme. Participants had to make decisions, work in a team, and solve problems in what to coach for the rest of the group.
The second part of the session was carried out in the foundation box overlooking the Anfield turf. The focus of this part of the session was around mindset and employability skills. The initiative aimed at creating positive mindsets, looking at mentality, mental health and key communication skills such as speaking in front of groups which feed into employability and an exposure to 1-1 interviews which a lot of the participants have never had.
The first cohort brought together a group of individuals that all shared similar life experiences that had never met before. At the end of the programme the participants had not only developed from an individual perspective but had made teammates that they were able to share experiences and coping strategies with and be there for once the programme had ended.
Of the 9 participants that started the programme 8 finished which was fantastic. All these 8 participants finished with a better understanding of what they wanted to do in life and what it would take to get there from an employability sense.
Having the football sessions first worked well as it acted as a carrot to come to the session and had a positive impact on the participants health and fitness.
The workshops act as a safe environment in which the participants feel comfortable speaking about their weeks. Having created this environment early on the groups really do benefit from interact.
The results of the initiative reflect several things. The participants on street soccer come away from the programme with a better understanding of mindset and skills which are used in daily life that can be transferred to future employability. The participants network of individuals was developed throughout the programme, some of these local companies which would give them a better understanding of what kind of employment they would want to step into.
The recommendation to other organisations that aim to implement a similar initiative is to keep the football part of the workshop format. The football offers the participants the opportunity to take part in sport which is something they might not get the chance to do otherwise. The workshop helps the participants with developing a positive and open mindset but really acts as a safe space for participants to feel comfortable to speak about what troubles them in their daily lives.