Katie McGrory admits her volunteering work has helped give her a new lease of life after the youngster was presented with the HITZ Community Impact Award supported by Wooden Spoon.
Katie was honoured at the glittering HITZ awards ceremony, hosted at Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf, after being put forward for the award on behalf of Sale Sharks.
Katie’s work through HITZ with the Rochdale Youth Service has instilled her with so much self-belief that she has well and truly put her difficult time at school in the past.
The multi award-winning HITZ programme uses rugby to increase young people's resilience, self-reliance and confidence and gives them the skills to get back into education, apprenticeships and employment. HITZ is run in partnership with Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon.
Katie approached one of the youth workers she had become close to while attending different sessions at Rochdale Youth Service and asked if she could help out.
After finding herself in a role of responsibility, Katie’s honest and kind hearted personality saw her devoting time to mentoring and looking after these young people in the community.
See Katie’s story here <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Zyfu55ax3qY?list=PL10-iuZDt9bS5GHMq-Dp4RzpGrTTO6QvI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
“I was always swapping to different schools, I never stayed in one place at all – I found it difficult to fit in at school, and I fell into the wrong crowds,” she said.
“But I did my work placement at HITZ through the Rochdale Youth Service – we took them bowling, and did planned lessons with them. I used to be in their position, coming through their GCSEs, so I know how they’re feeling.”
Katie, quite rightly so deserves the Community Impact Award, supported by Wooden Spoon. It is all about the time and commitment given by a HITZ young person and recognises a HITZ participant's contribution through volunteering and service.
It looks not only for the impact of the young person's volunteering on the community, but also the impact of the volunteering on the HITZ participant themselves.
“The HITZ programme has helped me to get a full-time job as a hairdresser because through HITZ I achieved my Maths, English and better lifestyle management qualifications.
“Without the HITZ programme I wouldn’t be doing anything – it’s changed my life.”
Sale Sharks HITZ officer Tom Leader says, “Katie’s selfless commitment to volunteering is one example of how empowering the programme can be.
“She was quiet, I don’t think she fully understood the programme at the start,” he said. “It did take time for her to get used to what we wanted her to do.
“Now Katie goes out into the community and works with the youth service to provide young people something so they’re not out on the streets. It’s what young people need these days.”
Volunteering through HITZ has given Katie much more focus and confidence to improve her own future. She has completed her qualification and has now moved into an apprenticeship in hairdressing.
Katie was not the only youngster to be recognised, with Connor Mitchell of Worcester Warriors and Bath Rugby pair Ben Bradley and Jacob King also shortlisted for the award.
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