Leeds-based Champions Community Sport & Health CIC, a not-for-profit group supporting underserved young people, has become the first beneficiary of a new UK scheme to increase job opportunities in food and drink manufacturing.
Thanks to donations from food businesses and industry stakeholders, The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink (NSAFD) is now offering free Food & Drink Careers Passport study to people supported by organisations like Champions that transform lives.
A community interest company, Champions Sport & Health hosts free weekly football-based get-togethers for over 200 children and young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds in South Leeds and will be using the Passport study slots to support three of its ‘next generation leaders’ – young people already making an impact by helping organise and run the sessions.
“They’re interested. They want to do more. They want to learn and develop. They want to get on whether it’s through a food safety certificate, coaching course, or getting some leadership skills,” said Champions Project Manager Sam Gilmore.
Passport certification, which involves around eight hours of online study, is a valuable CV and employment tool that helps job hunters stand out when applying for entry-level food manufacturing roles because they already have basic knowledge of food safety, food handling, allergen awareness, and workplace health and safety. The associated industry standard courses leading to Passport qualification, registration and certification are purpose-designed by leading experts, regularly reviewed with industry input and delivered only via the NSAFD as an assurance of industry-accepted content and quality.
“To date, we’ve had more than 200 Passport study licences donated by food and drink companies eager to find new talent and for every licence donated, we’ve match funded an additional licence to double the reach to 400 – but demand across the country is high and we’re keen to hear from more businesses that would like to get involved,” said NSAFD Head of Marketing Amy Crooks.
Leeds Champions were introduced to the NSAFD by the sport for development charity StreetGames and delivers sessions as part of Fit and Fed, a campaign that offers fun physical activities and nutritious, healthy meals to some of society’s most vulnerable young people.
“Empowering these young people, and other across England and Wales, as well as family members, community leaders and local residents to study for the Food & Drink Careers Passport supports the sustainability of much needed community sport with food. The added responsibility is a personal boost that can support wider employability as well as the local community. We’re delighted to work with NSAFD to offer this to our network that engages thousands of young people every week” said StreetGames Fit and Fed Funding and Sustainability Lead, Ali Spaul
Passport training in food safety will also have an immediate benefit to Leeds Champions which provides year-round free breakfasts and lunches to the youngsters attending their Saturday soccer sessions and school holiday provision — many of whom have families who are struggling because of the cost-of-living crisis.
Certification will enable the organisation to comply with legal requirements for their young leaders (all volunteers) to have food safety certification when providing hot meals to youngsters attending their weekly meetings as part of their ‘Fit and Fed’ community support. It will also help these young leaders secure permanent work in the food and drink sector when they are ready.
NSAFD’s Amy Crooks added: “We’re now keen to extend our Passport partnership with StreetGames across other areas of the UK and we’re delighted to be working with Leeds Champions who are making a real difference to so many young lives.
“Yorkshire is home to many food and drink manufacturers that produce familiar brands found on every supermarket shelf, and with the support of industry businesses, we hope to help many more young people secure rewarding long-term careers in this sector.”
- For more background on the NSAFD Food & Drink Careers Passport visit https://fdcp.co.uk
- For more information about the Fit and Fed campaign visit: streetgames.org/what-we-do/live-campaigns/fit-and-fed