Premiership Rugby's award-winning HITZ programme today launched the first of a series of films putting the success stories of previously disenfranchised young people across the country in the spotlight.
HITZ uses rugby to increase young people's resilience, self-reliance and confidence. It gives them the skills to get into or remain in education, vocational training, apprenticeships or employment. The programme was launched in 2009 and this season is being rolled out nationally with the support of key partners - Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon.
At Bath Rugby, Josh Burton is one of the success stories of HITZ, which helps young people into work with support from Barclays in Bath. The first film, Josh's Story, explains the huge benefits that the programme has brought to him and other young people taking part. Josh is one of 9,000 young people across the UK who will be supported by HITZ over the next three years.
Having been in many care placements since an early age, Josh felt he had few opportunities to improve his chances in life. Josh struggled with his confidence and school attendance, and lacked the motivation and skills to get into work when he left school. Since joining HITZ, Josh has gained new skills and benefited from work placements and employment opportunities. He is now taking control of his life, has new aspirations, and has found a job.
"After the HITZ programme I have a lot more confidence," Josh explains. "I have more confidence in getting employed. I now feel more confident about getting on with my life and being more ambitious."
The film also stars HITZ ambassadors and Bath Rugby players Matt Banahan and Anthony Perenise. "We are very proud of the HITZ programme at Bath Rugby," said Banahan, "and I am delighted to be involved with it. As Josh's film shows HITZ is helping young people to fulfil their potential, giving them the best chance to find work or start further education.
"Sport is the hook but the key to the programme's success is the skills and drive that the young people take away to either get into training or work. Rugby can provide a real sense of community, values, and discipline; it's inspiring to see what these young people can achieve and the challenges they can overcome with the right support."
HITZ supports 5 Million Young Futures - Barclays' commitment to invest not only money, but employees' time and expertise in community programmes that enhance the enterprise, employability and financial skills of disadvantaged young people, by 2015.
David Wheldon, Barclays Head of Brand, Reputation, Citizenship and Marketing said: "For the past decade, we've used the power of sport to support our communities and the young people who live in them. Youth unemployment is a significant issue and HITZ provides an innovative way to respond to this problem. Our partnership with this Premiership Rugby programme is part of Barclays' broader commitment to changing 5 Million Young Futures, so the next generation has the skills needed to fulfil their potential and achieve financial security."
This film highlights the role Barclays has played in supporting HITZ in Bath, where volunteers from the local branches help to deliver the programme. Bath Branch Manager Adam Rowland added: "The team here are supporting the young people to get into work and become financially independent, by looking at skills such as CV writing, interview techniques, and money management. HITZ is not just beneficial for the young people - our colleagues get a huge amount out of the programme, using their expertise to contribute to the community in Bath."
HITZ is one of the world's largest rugby-based social inclusion programmes. The films will feature young people from HITZ programmes run by each of the 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs, championing their inspiring success stories from Exeter Chiefs in the South-West to Newcastle Falcons in the North-East.
"The power of professional rugby with its club brands, facilities, players and coaches to deliver social change is immense. The expansion of Premiership Rugby's social impact work together with partners from public and private sector organisations in the run-up to Rugby World Cup 2015 is using the game to change the lives of individuals and communities for the better through HITZ and our other social change programmes." commented Mark McCafferty, Chief Executive, Premiership Rugby.
The award winning HITZ programme tackles some of the greatest challenges facing young people today – unemployment, crime and disillusionment. Delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon, HITZ uses rugby to increase young people's resilience, self-reliance and confidence. It gives them the skills to get back into education, vocational training, apprenticeships and employment. Please visit hitzrugby.com to find out more.