HITZ Northampton is a progressive, high profile programme delivered by Aviva Premiership Rugby club Northampton Saints, YMCA Training and the Wooden Spoon Children's Charity.
The HITZ programme targets young people at risk of exclusion and anti-social behaviour, introducing them - often for the first time - to touch and contact rugby. HITZ Northampton provides participants with the opportunity to access personal and social development programmes, educational support, vocational training programmes and workforce development Apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities
The programme is funded by community-minded businesses including the QBE Foundation, Travis Perkins, JP Morgan and The Wilson Foundation, as well as Sport England.
HITZ Northampton's delivery team, led by Saints HITZ officer Matt Goode, is aiming to recruit at least 120 young people onto this unique education and training programme. Although the ultimate goal is helping participants - aged between 16 and 19 - into full-time work or education, HITZ Northampton is also about developing talents and life skills so that young people can contribute to society in whatever they choose to do in the future.
The launch day was kicked off by Saints and England EPS flanker Calum Clark, who will also be helping to deliver the first wave of HITZ Northampton throughout the summer.
"It's great to be involved in such a positive project," said Clark. "We all need some direction at some point in our lives and this project aims to give the young people that while also offering them education opportunities. Rugby is a great vehicle to deliver this."
HITZ Northampton's launch event was attended not just by representatives of the club, local elected officials and delivery partners, but also by over 30 young people, who received a taster coaching session, a guided tour of the Franklin's Gardens stadium and had the opportunity to spend time talking to staff from YMCA Training.
Councillor Suresh Patel, Northamptonshire County Councillor for St James and Briar Hill Division, said: "This is a great partnership. Seeing these organisations working together to help our community. Many of the underprivileged young people would never get the opportunity to be involved in a scheme like this. It's more than just about the game of Rugby; it's about health, well being, discipline and educational opportunities."
Jai Purewal, Development Director, Wooden Spoon Community Projects, commented: "Wooden Spoon is delighted to be working with Northampton Saints and YMCA Training in Northampton. Collectively we hope to provide young people in and around town with a significant and sustainable opportunity to change their lives for the better. We wish Matt and the HITZ Northampton delivery team well and look forward to meeting project beneficiaries and sharing in their success over the coming months."