Ben Keens: A Community Champion

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There aren’t many roles in Saints Foundation that are more diverse than being a Saints Community Champion, but for Ben, he takes it all in his stride…

Saints Foundation’s Community Champions programme first began in 2015, and sees six members of staff integrated into six Southampton secondary schools.

A Community Champion’s role is to deliver a range of sporting activities, and provide support to young people who are struggling within mainstream education.

But for Ben, who works at Woodlands Community College, they are both as important as each other.

“The Community Champion role is unique,” Ben states. “We are a key contact between local schools and the Foundation. We help deliver the Foundation’s mission, which is to fulfil potential and change lives.”

“Our role differs a lot to that of a teacher, we’re more like a youth worker. The most important part of the job is to be approachable, we need to be able to build rapport with students and raise their aspirations for life after school.”

“The beauty of the Community Champions programme is that we all deliver our sessions so differently.”

“Each school has different demands due to the different communities we work in; meaning we all have to adapt to the different needs of our areas. It means we always have to be creative in how we deliver sessions, and we always listen to the voices of the young people we’re engaging with.”

“The main benefit of our schools having a Community Champion is that it can give our students consistent support.”

“We are in our schools five days a week. We know students by name rather than by number and that puts us in a position to make really positive connections with them.”

“We offer so much in our schools. Whether it’s delivering programmes and activities, or providing mentoring and support, each day on the job is just as unique and rewarding as the last.”

“My proudest moment since starting as a Saints Community Champion was probably watching my students deliver a Saints Connect workshop to local primary school students.”

“To see their hard work and preparation pay off, and see how well they engaged with the primary school pupils was humbling.”

“Days like that happen often when you are a Community Champion, and it always makes me extremely proud to be one.”

If you would like to know more about our Schools & Community work, please contact our Schools & Community Senior Project Officer, Mike Dixon, at mdixon@saintsfc.co.uk.

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