Premiership Rugby has today announced Sale Sharks’ Joe Benson, Northampton Saints’ Kayleigh Simpson and Exeter Chiefs’ Rachel Slee as the three finalists for the HITZ Young Achiever award supported by Barclays.
Through the power of rugby, HITZ tackles head on some of the greatest challenges facing young people today like crime, mental health challenges and unemployment.
The HITZ Young Achiever award recognises and rewards the young person who, by overcoming a range of challenges, has worked the hardest to progress on their journey back to education, training or employment.
Kayleigh was shortlisted after securing a full-time job whilst being a young carer to her father outside of college. A tumultuous maternal relationship left Kayleigh short of confidence, but she has transformed from an unteachable, confrontational teenager to a shining example of the HITZ programme.
As a national HITZ partner, Barclays is supporting the Young Achiever award, and judge Victoria Lowe admits the task of selecting a winner is harder than ever due to the success of the programme.
Lowe – an assistant vice-president in the bank’s citizenship and reputation division – revealed selecting the entries to be shortlisted was no mean feat.
“Without a doubt the quality of the applications this year was superb and made the judges’ job very difficult,” she said, ahead of the awards night at Barclays HQ in London on 28 November.
“Some of these young adults have extremely challenging circumstances and it’s great to see them achieve their ambition of being in work. We also recognise what they have given back to HITZ along the way by supporting others in the programme or in their community.
“The programme itself has adapted and improved in many respects in the last three years whilst Barclays has been involved, and the strength of applications this year are evidence of how HITZ is truly an employability programme.
“What I love about HITZ is that it supports the young people who wouldn’t get support in other areas.”
HITZ Awards – Young Achiever shortlist
Joe Benson - Sale Sharks
Kayleigh Simpson - Northampton Saints
Rachel Slee - Exeter Chiefs
This year’s glittering HITZ awards will take place at Barclays HQ on the Monday 28 November, where participants, mentors, and former international rugby stars alike will gather to celebrate the programme’s achievements.
HITZ is 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 and gives them the skills to get back into education, apprenticeships and employment.