Shannon Campbell, 20 years old and originally from Oban in Scotland, recently found herself excluded from the benefits system due to a 3 year sanction and isolated in a Welsh village with no personal transport and poor public transport. Life, in her words, was “going nowhere”.
She was referred to CBSA by the local Youth Service in December 2017. At the first meeting with the support officers Shannon explained her interest in sport, sports coaching and helping others worse off than herself. In recent years she’d been unemployed and had to drop out of college for personal reasons, and now found herself at such a low ebb that she was willing to do any kind of work placement because she had to start doing something. Anything to start changing her life.
However, during that first meeting it was striking how passionately she talked about her World Cup experience. The most positive event of her recent life was representing Wales in the Homeless World Cup in Oslo, Norway in 2017. This experience clearly made a mark on her and kick started Shannon out of her slumber.
“The reason I want to coach and help people is because, well…..there is nothing better than seeing their wee faces light up! Really it’s just so rewarding for me to see others happy, especially if I can be part of the reason for it”.
Taking the lead from this interest in sport and helping others, the Step Up project, investigated numerous local possibilities and finally came across an opening 3 miles from Shannon’s home. Glyn Abbey Golf Course has had experience of offering apprenticeships and work placements with mixed results. Some were a disappointment but many “trainees” have become permanent members of staff. Keen to pursue the possibilities with Step Up, the manager, Martin Lane, insisted that it would only work if the young person was the right person for them and vice versa.
What was expected to be an informal interview turned into a formal affair as the Golf Club Manager and Golf Pro sussed out the candidate in front of them, and considered Shannon’s potential. They needed someone who could learn the role quickly, be a team player and get involved in all aspect of the business. If the placement worked out they looking for someone who could take course bookings and orders, assist in the gym and eventually take the lead on existing and new projects.
In conversation with Mike Davies, the Golf Pro, it became clear that there’d be opportunities to assist with various programs including teaching golf to schoolchildren and people with learning difficulties, and even suggested resurrecting their interest in FootGolf (the object of FootGolf is to get the ball into the hole using only your feet in the fewest number of shots possible).
Shannon clearly impressed them as someone who’d add value to their business and offered a placement to her with little hesitation.
Golf Club manager Martin Lane reported later that day
“Thanks to both of you for all your help. Mike and I were a little more fired up when we got together after you left than we have for a little while………..Exciting times all round”
Shannon accepted but was anxious about getting to work by 8 am every day in a rural part of Wales, interacting with a completely new group of people, answering the phone to strangers and the expectations on her to learn so much. Given her transport difficulties, the Step Up Project located a refurbished bike for her to get to work and reiterated their belief that she was capable of doing what was being asked of her.
There’s a long way to go but this faith in her ability and the suitability of the work placement was strengthened when, on day 2 of her placement, Shannon politely interrupted a conversation with her support officer, answered an incoming phone call in a professional manner, then called out a Hello to a member of the Club who’d just walked in as if she’d known him all her life.
I swear I saw her wee face light up when he responded with “Hello Shannon, Nice to see you again”.
Step up is funded through the Active Inclusion Programme, which is managed by WCVA and funded by the European Social Fund via Welsh Government.