Date published: Friday, July 6, 2012

OLDHAM Rugby League Club has set up a community project —- ‘Give us a try !’ —- which offers work experience and volunteer opportunities to young people in Hollinwood who are not in employment, education or training.

It was launched at a jobs fair yesterday (Thurs) in conjunction with Positive Steps Oldham, who are giving it their total support.

‘Give us a try !’ has also received the backing of Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth; Chuka Umunna, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills; and Jim McMahon, Oldham Council Leader.

Chuka Umunna, who was in Oldham last night, said: “At a time when there are more than one million unemployed young people, projects helping them to gain skills and find opportunities are to be welcomed.

“This scheme demonstrates the positive difference which businesses can make in their local communities.”

The club will offer, on a work experience and volunteer basis, office work, ground work (pitch and building maintenance etc) at its Whitebank Stadium and match-day work at Whitebank when the first team, reserves or scholarship teams are playing at home.

Club chairman Chris Hamilton sits on the Failsworth and Hollinwood Economic Prosperity Working Group.

He said: “Hollinwood is top of the NEET (not in employment, education or training) table in Oldham

“As a professional sports club based in that area I felt we were in a unique position to enthuse those people, who maybe lacked opportunities or the desire to do something about their situation.

“I think our scheme is perfect in terms of the variety and type of work it offers and, maybe vitally, in the way it provides a chance for people to undertake such roles in bite-size sessions.

“If successful we hope to roll out ‘Give us a try !’ across other areas of the borough. We are also working with a number of our partners whom we hope will also be willing to offer similar placements.”

Steve Murphy, a director of Positive Steps Oldham, welcomed ‘Give us a try !’ as a “great idea” and added: “Hollinwood is on the club’s doorstep. It has very high numbers of people who are not in employment, education or training — one of the highest in the borough — and we hope lots of them will be interested in what Chris and the club have to offer.

“We will certainly be promoting the scheme among the young people we work with, some of whom might also develop an interest in rugby league while being actively involved at the club.

“The big hope, of course, is that the scheme might help them to go out and find employment.”

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, said: “It is extremely encouraging to see this type of initiative on our doorstep in Oldham. Full marks to Chris and Oldham RLFC for providing these opportunities for our young people in Hollinwood and around the district.”

Jim McMahon, Oldham Council Leader, said: “This is a fantastic initiative by the Roughyeds and one that has already received the backing of Positive Steps Oldham.

“Work experience and volunteering are brilliant ways for young people in Hollinwood to develop their skills and also to boost their confidence and self-esteem.

“Schemes like this also provide great opportunities for people to think about how they can get involved in their community more and ‘do their bit’ to make the area a better place in which to live.”