A teenager from Leigh who overcame a troubled home life and tackled confidence and communication issues thanks to Premiership Rugby and Sale Sharks’ groundbreaking HITZ programme has secured her first full time job.
Lucy Neal, 17, struggled at school and didn’t take part in any physical activity until she started attending educational and enrichment sessions run by the club’s award winning Community Trust in January 2017.
Under the watchful eyes of Trust staff Jon Travena and Carl Fairhurst, Lucy’s confidence developed and before long she was participating fully in all aspects of the programme.
Lucy said: “Joining the HITZ programme was a real turning point for me in my life. I have been able to develop my confidence and I’ve even enjoyed playing tag rugby. That’s something I never thought I would say.”
As part of the programme, Lucy had the opportunity to attend the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham in May along with other learners from the programme.
This was the first time Lucy had ever been out of the Greater Manchester area and the trip transformed Lucy’s self-confidence and social skills.
Now, after completing a work experience placement at Leigh Cats and Dogs Home, Lucy has been rewarded with a full time job at Poundbakery in the town.
Delivered across Manchester, Cheshire, Lancashire, Merseyside and Cumbria by the Sale Sharks Community Trust, Premiership Rugby’s HITZ programme uses rugby to increase young peoples’ resilience, self-reliance, confidence and progress them in to a positive destination upon completing the course.
HITZ gives young people the skills to get back into education, vocational training, apprenticeships and employment. In Lucy’s case, HITZ has helped her progress in her maths and English, gain a qualification in Lifestyle Management and improve her confidence and life skills.
“I left school with very few qualifications but I can honestly say that I’m really excited about my future now,” Lucy added.
“If it wasn’t for the HITZ programme – and that trip to Twickenham – I would still be sitting at home, doing nothing. I would never have had the opportunity to develop myself and gain a full time position like this.”
Sale Sharks Social Inclusion Manager Tom Leader said: “It’s truly inspiring and incredibly rewarding to see a young person like Lucy turn her life around and achieve something that, until a few weeks ago, she wouldn’t have thought possible.
“We’re all so proud of her and we’re confident that she has a fantastic future ahead of her now.”
For more information on the HITZ programme and the work of the Sale Sharks Community Trust, visit: www.salesharks.com/community.