The hard work of Aston Villa Football Club’s official charity, Villa in the Community, was recognised earlier this month at a House of Commons reception. The reception was held to highlight the positive impact that the charity has on its community, through the range of work that that they do. Aston Villa Football Club works with over 30,000 young people every year supporting them on programmes around enterprise, sport, healthy lifestyles and more.
One of the charity’s many programmes to be praised at the reception was the Aston Villa Football Club Social Enterprise Academy, which teaches business skills through the context of learning how to run a football club. Young people from Q3 Academy and Small Heath School in Birmingham took part in the year-long programme. The programme also focused on social enterprise principles, which the young people applied to create their own social enterprise projects. These projects were all created to address a social or environmental issue, and some of these were highlighted at the reception.
Through the projects, the young people also gained the Social Enterprise Qualification (SEQ), a global qualification developed by Real Ideas Organisation and SFEDI Awards in 2011 to accredit social enterprise learning.
The event was sponsored by Shabana Mahmood, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood and the Shadow Exchequer Secretary, and speeches were given from Mahmood and Tom Fox, Aston Villa Football Club’s Chief Executive Officer). It was attended by Aston Villa staff, external partners including the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City University, as well as some of the young people responsible for the successful social enterprise projects. AVFC Premier League Players were also in attendance.
Some of the young people were able to talk about their individual social enterprise projects, and what they gained from it. Silver SEQ students from Small Heath School discussed their social enterprise – a t-shirt business set up to generate money for a crisis centre for women suffering domestic abuse. The students talked about the enterprise skills they had gained through the process such as teamwork, confidence, and product development.
Paula Winzar, Lead Developer at RIO, was there to talk with MPs about the experiences of working with Villa in the Community.
Paula Winzar, Lead Developer for the SEQ at RIO, said, “Aston Villa Football Club has pioneered a Social Enterprise Academy with fantastic results – young people have gained enterprise skills and made real positive social change, generating income for the charity as well as making a direct impact. The academy is accredited using Social Enterprise Qualification, for which young people produced some of the best portfolios the qualification team has seen since the launch of the SEQ.”
Ravih Masih, Head of Villa in the Community, said, “We are very proud of the work we do in the community and this is a fantastic way for us to showcase to government the breadth of our work and the difference we are making in young people’s lives. The Social Enterprise Academy is but one example of the innovative way we using the power of our crest to make a positive difference and address important issues. As a newly formed charity we hope to work with more partners like RIO and Birmingham City University to continue to make a difference.”
Three schools in Birmingham have already signed up to take part in the AVFC Social Enterprise Academy for 2014-2015. The SEQ is available at Bronze, Silver, and Gold, a Level 1 award, Level 2 award and Level 2 certificate on the Qualifications and Credit Framework respectively. All of the students who took part in the AVFC Social Enterprise Academy gained the Silver SEQ.