By Tony Dewhurst

In her ten years at the helm of Morecambe's Football in the Community project, Janet Preston has seen the Lancashire club change beyond recognition.

A decade ago, it was a regular non-league diet of Margate and Stalybridge Celtic, but Morecambe's elevation to The Football League in 2007 and last summer's move from Christie Park, their home since 1921 to The Globe Arena, has transformed the League 2 club.

"I was working a day a week from a portakabin when I started, now we've got a terrific team of staff working in an incredible stadium," said Janet.

"To see 10,000 Morecambe fans at the Wembley Play-Off final is a sight I'll never forget - but that day, more than any other in Morecambe's history, created the momentum to take us where we are today."

Janet has also witnessed the success of the Future Jobs Fund, giving out of work youngsters a fresh opportunity for employment.

"Times are exceptionally hard with jobs hard to come by, but we've some fantastic kids who have come through the Future Jobs Fund and some of them have jobs at Morecambe FC now, " added Janet.

"The standard of the young people applying for the course has surprised me.

"It just goes to show how hard it is to get a job, irrespective of qualifications, talent or experience

"For example, one of our admin assistants, Graham Bailey, had a degree in English and couldn't get work when he left University.

"He came to us, really impressed for six months and we took him on.

"Certainly for the ones who maybe underachieved a little bit at school, it is even harder for them to get an opportunity.

"The Future Jobs Fund, though, has created an opportunity for them to prove themselves and that's certainly happened at Morecambe."

The Globe Arena has given the community project extra scope, with the new 3G pitches and gymnasium meaning Morecambe's Community team can offer their coaching skills to a wider audience.

"Some of the first team players have become involved in coaching, and when you get youngsters coming to a game, saying, 'There's Jim Bentley (Reserve Team Manager and former captain), he was at our school last week.'

" Well, you just can't buy that sort of link because those children are Morecambe's future supporters.

"The whole place is buzzing, we've introduced a Saturday morning football club, and we also run a social club and exercise programme for the over 50s called Extra Time, so we've got activities for all ages."

Janet says she is especially proud of the Kickz Project, run under the community banner, and aimed at bringing sports participation to deprived areas and using football coaching to reduce crime rates at peak times of the week.

Sessions are in partnership with Lancashire Constabulary and run on Friday nights at five different centres.

"We've had kids with ASBOS and major social problems attending Kickz and the Police said that the crime rates had sometimes gone down on a Friday at that time and that's phenomenal," said Janet.

"The Kickz Project has given the kids a real sense of belonging and they've really responded to the course."

Mike Evans, The Football League Trust National Project Manager, said: "The Future Jobs Fund has been an amazing success for The Football League Trust.

"We have created 400 jobs across 76 charities we work with, of which well over half have led to sustainable employment.

"All of the young people we have given opportunities to have gained new qualifications, learnt new skills, and many have gained the confidence to go out and get that job that seemed impossible to find."

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