MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT Priti Patel has tonight acclaimed five inspirational teenagers who have been honoured at Premiership Rugby’s inaugural HITZ Awards.
The Minister is a long-term supporter of Premiership Rugby's multi award-winning HITZ programme that utilises rugby to increase young people’s resilience, self-reliance and confidence and gives them the skills to get back into education, apprenticeships and employment.
Tonight in the heart of London’s financial landmark Canary Wharf, five of the many thousands of HITZ participants were honoured in front of a prestigious audience at Barclays HQ.
"I've had the privilege to meet inspirational young people who have benefitted from HITZ, and find out how the scheme has helped them turn their lives around,” said the Minister.
Tried and tested since 2009 and delivered through all 12 Premiership Rugby clubs, each year HITZ gives 3,000 vulnerable young people age 11-19 the personal skills and opportunity to reach their full potential.
As part of the HITZ scheme students complete a 33-week study programme that gets vital maths and English grades up and offers accredited qualifications, which are tailored for their chosen path. Being ready for the world of work is also learning how to turn up on time, write a CV, communicate and present yourself – 75% progress positively back into education, employment or training.
The Minister added: "HITZ isn't just about rugby – it's engaging with hundreds of young people to get them ready for the world of work, and linking them up with businesses and training opportunities.
“All of the winners and nominees at the HITZ awards deserve heartfelt congratulations, and I look forward to hearing more success stories from HITZ participants in the future."
HITZ seeks to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing young people today – unemployment, crime and disillusionment. Delivered nationally through 12 Premiership Rugby clubs it is supported by four key partners – Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon.
The HITZ Award night was not just about the five main award winners as Premiership Rugby would like to acknowledge 12 other people who won Highly Commended prizes and Special Mentions.
The full list of prize winners:
The Community Impact Award, supported by Wooden Spoon. This category is designed to recognise a HITZ young person who has contributed to the improvement of a community or club, through volunteering and service. The award looks at the impact of the young person's volunteering in the community, and also the impact of the volunteering on the HITZ participant themselves.
- Katie McGory, Sale Sharks
- Connor Mitchell, Worcester Warriors
- Jacob King, Bath Rugby
The Young Ambassador of the Year, supported by Land Rover. This award rewards the individual who has done the most to represent the HITZ programme to their peers and in their communities. It recognises someone who has grown and changed for the better and whose positive attitude has made an impact on those involved in and around the project.
Steph Rawlings, Harlequins
- James Cameron, Leicester Tigers
- Lacey Marshall, Sale Sharks
The Best Rugby Performer, supported by Premiership Rugby. The Rugby Performance award rewards an individual who has developed and progressed in their rugby performance, physical activity levels and capabilities as a result of participating in the HITZ programme. This is not necessarily those that have progressed the furthest in terms of level of play, but those that have improved the most, changed their attitude toward activity and improved their health as a result.
- Govinda Kay, Exeter Chiefs
- George Brand, Worcester Warriors
- Antony Morris, Sale Sharks
- Louis Lott, Leicester Tigers
The HITZ Champion Award, supported by Comic Relief, an award designed to recognise a HITZ participant or member of the community who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help someone on the programme to overcome personal barriers to win. This could include supporting young people so that they can build a better future, prevent violent or exploitative situations or achieve healthier finances.
- Lacey Marshall, Sale Sharks
- Ben McDonald, Worcester Warriors
- Chris Dawson, Northampton Saints
- Melanie Magee, Newcastle Falcons
The Young Achiever of the Year, supported by Barclays recognises a young person who has overcome barriers to achieve personal success…… and who has attained the greatest positive progression in their personal journey returning to education, training and employment.
- Joe Melfah, Worcester Warriors
- Kendal Morris, Sale Sharks
- Sohail Khalifa, Leicester Tigers
The annual HITZ Awards recognise some of the most inspiring young people in England. The HITZ programme delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon tackles some of the greatest challenges facing young people today – unemployment, crime and disillusionment. See hitzrugby.com