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Social Enterprise Success as Young People take part in a Premier League Football Club’s Social Enterprise Programme

By 27th August 2014 No Comments

Social enterprise has made an impact with schools in Birmingham and a Premier League football club, through Aston Villa Football Club’s Social Enterprise Academy.

Students from secondary schools Q3 Academy and Small Heath School in Birmingham took part in the year-long programme, and explored social enterprise principles through undertaking the Social Enterprise Qualification.

Aston Villa Football Club’s Social Enterprise Academy is the first programme of its kind to engage young people aged 14-16 in the study of business, using a football club as a template for their learning.

Young people in the Aston Villa Social Enterprise Academy learned basic business principles around running a football club and applied their newfound business knowledge to creating a social enterprise project that made a positive difference in their own community.

Seven projects successfully launched through the Academy, all with the aim of raising funds to tackle a social or environmental issue. Six students from Small Heath School capitalised on World Cup fever in their social enterprise, ‘Shoots and Roots’. They sold handmade cakes and cookies decorated with various World Cup team flags to students, and gave all proceeds to the Football Club’s charity, Acorns Children’s Hospice. The group has plans to expand their business to include other seasonal activities.

‘Chance’ was set up by a group of students from Q3 Academy, who wanted to address the issue of obesity through creating a fun sports day and a fitness DVD which they aimed to sell to young people to encourage physical activity. The group learned some valuable enterprise, organisational and marketing skills and in the future would hope to put even further research into their efforts to raise awareness around this social issue.

‘Infinitam’ formed when a group of girls from Small Heath School provided the school’s large population of Muslim students with quick and easy high energy foods after their fasting period Ramadan. Their project was very successful as the students took a social enterprise approach to identifying and filling a gap in the market, and they have branched out to create and sell bracelets and other jewellery, which they will sell at a stall in Birmingham City Centre in September.

Five boys from Small Heath School created their project, ‘Healthy Blend’, which involved the creation of a fruit-based crushed ice drink, which they product-tested and sold to fellow students during lunchtime in the school. Their aim was to raise awareness of healthy eating and lower the risk of obesity, supporting Villa in the Community’s health project, Villa Vitality.

‘Smooooth Shakes’, a social enterprise group of students from Q3 Academy, also wanted to tackle obesity through selling homemade healthy smoothies at their school, promoting long-term healthy eating habits and giving the profits to Acorns Children’s Hospice. ‘Food Discovery’ saw students from the Academy work with Aston Villa’s training restaurant to produce high-quality desserts at the football club’s critically acclaimed Restaurant VMF, with all profits going to Birmingham homeless charity Midland Heart. ‘Fruit Loop’ overcame various challenges to set up their social enterprise business, creating a ‘Fun Food Day’ for their school, researching enjoyable snacks at their school and then setting up a tuck shop in the school to sell the desired foods.

Through these projects, the students gained the Social Enterprise Qualification (SEQ), Real Ideas Organisation’s (RIO) global qualification that accredits social enterprise learning. The groups all gained this at Silver level, which is a Level 2 award on the Qualifications and Credit Framework. The young people were also awarded a certificate in Business and Enterprise, and they will be recognised at an awards ceremony next month, which will be held at Villa Park.

The success of the programme means that it will be expanding to a further three schools in the New Year, with another two schools due to confirm their participation soon.

Debbi Rawson, Aston Villa Football Club’s Social Enterprise Academy Coordinator, said, “SEQ has been a great success in Birmingham. We have had 7 groups of students who have developed some great Social Enterprise business ideas and learned so much during the last 12 months. Running the programme through Aston Villa FC has enhanced the project and made it more enjoyable and relevant to these young people. The support from RIO has been fantastic, which has made the project really exciting to deliver. We are looking forward to delivering SEQ again next academic year to more young people across the City.”

Paula Winzar, Lead Developer for the Social Enterprise Qualification at Real Ideas Organisation, said, “The programme has been a real success with young people developing products and services that generate income for the football club’s charities. Not only did the club support young people to gain enterprise skills, but those young people went on to generate income for good causes. I am excited to see the programme expand into more schools next year with more young people taking part in the Social Enterprise Qualification.”

Real Ideas Organisation worked in partnership with SFEDI Awards to design the qualification, which they officially launched in 2012 after a successful pilot in 2011. The qualification has since received global success across the UK, as well as China and Uganda.

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