By Tony Dewhurst
If medals were awarded for hard work and innovation, Bury's go-ahead Community Trust Department would be clutching gold.
Headed by former Burnley midfielder Paul Weller, the Trust has officers with specific responsibilities in education, health, inclusion and sports development.
Mike Morris, Bury's Community Trust Manager, has worked tirelessly at Gigg Lane alongside Weller and his team to help young people get back into paid work via a new role with The Future Jobs Fund.
Morris said: "When we did the second intake of Future Jobs Fund we took a different approach entirely.
"Instead of employing the people within the club, we created a role called a sports technician, which meant they would be working in a local High School.
"When we talked to the schools, they all wanted in and it has really taken off in a big way.
"The idea is that our sports technicians support the PE staff, assisting and helping in all the daily sporting activities, and we found it forged a powerful link between Bury and the schools."
Future Jobs Fund staff are employed two days a week at Gigg Lane, honing their personal development and qualification skills, and the remainder of the time is spent in schools, working for Bury FC.
"With all the cuts, there could be jobs' gaps in some school PE departments," added Morris.
"If that happens, then these kids would be at the front of the queue because they've done the job.
"It has created all sorts of new partnerships and as far as I know Bury's the only club who employ sports technicians."
Bury have spread their net as far as schools in the Rossendale Valley and, through the course of their work in the local area, they are building a strong foundation stone for the future.
Thirteen new recruits have just kick-started the third Future Jobs Fund course at Gigg Lane.
"Instead of just doing interviews we conducted a seven-day training course, and we got a hundred referrals from the Job Centre," added Morris.
"Fifty-five people attended on the first day, and providing they had a 100% per cent attendance record at the end of the week, they'd receive a qualification certificate.
"Forty-seven of them had an unblemished attendance rate, and that's a phenomenal statistic.
"The first time we did Future Jobs Fund at Bury, most people applying had very few qualifications.
"Then the recession hit, and it changed. We had a guy who had studied Law, a Quantity Surveyor and several football coaches.
"We are very pro-active and, for example, we heard about a job with a local company, and I recommended one of our Future Jobs Fund people.
"It is not just about us employing them, it is giving them an opportunity to expose them to as many firms as possible."
Emma Kay landed a full-time post at Bury as a receptionist/administrator after impressing her new bosses on the club's first Future Jobs Fund.
Emma said: "I love the work at Bury, meeting different people every day, and it is through Future Jobs Fund I managed to get this job.
"It has given me a real opportunity and it has changed my life getting regular work."
Football League Trust National Project Manager Mike Evans said: "The Future Jobs Fund has been an amazing success for the Football League Trust.
"We have created 400 jobs across the 76 charities we work with, of which well over half have led to sustainable employment.
"All 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 previously seemed impossible to find."
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