Trust the Princes Trust and “Get Started” in stewarding!

An image of staff and students at Nottingham Forest 'get started in stewarding course'

Safety Officers throughout football and other sports are acutely aware of the challenges when training and then retaining quality accredited resources for their venues. Nottingham Forest is no different so eighteen months ago and taking the lead from a similar programme at Stoke City FC they contacted the Princes Trust to see if they could form a partnership to recruit potential candidates to become safety stewards.

The idea was to take people from the local community who may not have had the best of starts in their adult lives, and offer the chance to train as a steward and achieve a nationally recognised accreditation. These volunteers aged between16 to 25 had to apply via an interview process and from 40 applicants 23 were successful in going forward to the training stage.

Nottingham Forest has run two courses over the past 12 months. They have worked closely with the Princes Trust Staff who have been totally supportive in the process.

The culmination of the intensive week’s training hosted at the club was a presentation, where some of the candidates achieved something positive for the first time in a long time and even the most hardened of Safety Officers could not fail to be moved by the emotion shown by the candidates and their families.

Over the next few weeks the group embedded themselves into the safety team in various parts of the stadium and feedback from the section supervisors was excellent, they were unanimous in stating that this group were some of the best stewards they had been given.

A number of the group have since obtained full time employment meaning that they could not continue stewarding, however the reward for the club was to play a pivotal role in changing their lives and giving them the confidence and experience which had played a major part in providing a focus for the future.

The success of the scheme was there for all to see, the club had gained some very good stewards who were loyal and dedicated so it was an easy decision to look to do the same again for the current season.

This time 23 places were open to 40 applicants. The interview/taster day saw 39 of the group keen to be given the opportunity and it was a tough decision to whittle those numbers down as everyone had a good case to argue, however the final group that began the week not knowing each other bonded quickly and by the Friday were seemingly confident and bullish about the prospect of their first game the day after.

On their arrival for the game against Charlton Athletic, the mood of the group had changed and although they were in good spirits the nervous anticipation was clear to see. After the game a number gathered to discuss their experience and it was pleasing to see that they were buzzing, full of stories about what they had done.

Now, having completed their probation period, the feedback once again from the section supervisors has seen nothing but praise heaped upon this group of young people who, through their energetic and enthusiastic approach to being a safety steward, have started on what we hope will be a new and fruitful period in their life.

Nottingham Forest FC has benefited greatly from its partnership with the Princes Trust and wholeheartedly recommends this emotional and satisfying journey which is ‘Get Started in Stewarding’.

Alan Bexon, Safety Officer at Nottingham Forest FC.