Soccer clubs in the UK have always been an integral part of their local communities. These clubs contribute not only to sporting achievements, but to the health, society, and economy of those living both nearby and further afield.
Manchester City Football Club’s City in the Community (CITC) charity is committed to empowering healthier lives through soccer. Its programs place mental and physical well-being at their core, in order to create healthy futures and healthy communities. For nearly four decades, CITC has been working with local people to improve their lives. It offers various programs, from soccer schools to PE lessons for disabled children to bespoke training for military veterans.
Helping young women develop professionally
One of the newest programs is the CITC Young Leaders Program (YLP), an exciting initiative to help young women develop skills and confidence for their careers—a program that CITC works closely with WeWork to administer. The need is great: Nearly three in four (73 percent) girls and young women, ages 11 to 21, think women have to work much harder than men to succeed. There is an absence of strong female leaders acting as role models—only 31.5 percent of leadership roles in FTSE 350 companies are held by women.
Over a period of 29 weeks, 15 young women, ages 16 to 25, from all over Greater Manchester, are invited to WeWork No. 1 Spinningfields for a mentoring and education program that aims to provide them with tools to enhance their careers. Biweekly sessions led by WeWork team members and CITC outreach managers address communication and other core leadership skills crucial for success in any industry. There’s a combination of face-to-face training, remote mentoring, and digital networking.
CITC outreach managers invite coaches, speakers, entrepreneurs, and other inspiring people to lead groups and run activities. Speakers have included Amanda Racine, head of first team player engagement and support at Manchester City, and Kerrie Bulcock, director of operations, UK, Ireland & Emerging Markets, and international president for Women of We, WeWork’s community employee group, which aims to support and empower women and marginalized genders.
The young women feel excited and energized when they come. And they say that this is the kind of place they want to work in in the future.Niamh Nolan, community outreach manager at CITC
When they’re not learning at WeWork No. 1 Spinningfields, the YLP students are often found on the community sports field, playing soccer with other young people, or spending time with older people, listening to stories about their favorite Manchester City matches. They have lively debates on topical news issues, which not only increases their knowledge of social affairs but helps them to develop critical-thinking skills and confidence.
The right space for the program
CITC works closely with WeWork on this program. Biweekly YLP meetings are held at WeWork No. 1 Spinningfields in Manchester, and Manchester City’s London branch works out of private office space at WeWork New Kings Beam House in Kings Cross.
The partnership between CITC and WeWork is a natural fit: WeWork thrives on freedom and innovation, is invested in supporting local communities, and cares about the future. And that’s exactly what CITC aims to instill in the young women they work with. “We saw this as a great opportunity [to partner], given the similarity in values and passion between WeWork and CITC, to make a positive change and invest in young people,” says Niamh Nolan, community outreach manager at CITC.
The WeWork location provides different meeting areas best suited for different types of programming. The empowerment sessions at WeWork take place in an open space designed for collaboration and inspiration. The business-skills-building sessions are held in office spaces where the young women feel comfortable enough to voice their opinions. The common spaces make it easy for them to form friendships and bonds for the future during coffee breaks.
It’s also important for young people to see the kinds of spaces and places that they might be working from in their career. “The spaces really inspire our young participants and create such a positive and friendly vibe amongst the group,” Nolan says. “The young women feel excited and energized when they come. And they say that this is the kind of place they want to work in in the future.”
Zahrah Malik, a former CITC participant in the City Girls initiative and now a community coach, describes it as “very zen, and a fantastic open space to communicate,” as well as it being perfectly set up for teamwork and skill-building.
“Our participants get opportunities to develop leadership skills through a variety of workshops online and in WeWork Spinningfields, they are exposed to different CITC program through volunteering opportunities, and they are part of a youth network to deliver youth-led programs that tackle issues faced by young people locally,” says Nolan. “So the effects are felt far beyond the meeting rooms.”
Francesca Baker is a freelance writer, marketer, and PR, a true non-nicher who thrives on freedom and flexibility. You can follow her on socials at @andsoshethinks.