By Tony Dewhurst

Jason Morgan started Charlton Athletic's community scheme with a bag of used footballs, a telephone and a second-hand desk!

"Charlton had lost a generation of supporters, so it was a mighty challenge to get them back," recalled Morgan, Charlton's Community Trust Chief Executive.

"Because of the financial situation, we had ground-shared for several years at Crystal Palace and West Ham, and that's why we had to embrace the community ethos so vigorously when we returned home to the Valley in 1992.

"It is probably Charlton's greatest strength now, how the club interacts with the community.

"Our coaches see 7,500 kids a week, visit 130 schools, 90 estates and a dozen leisure centres, so every day we are getting the Charlton message out with passion and enthusiasm."

It is that steely determination and hunger to succeed that has served the son of former QPR and Spurs winger Roger so well in building up one of the most successful and vibrant community schemes in football.

Charlton were the first club to dedicate an annual event to combating racism - launching the red, white and black day and they set the tone with many other pioneering projects that reached out to the community.

Morgan added: "I'm so very proud of the fact that Charlton's community work is seen as some of the best in the country.

"In that time we've had a regular presence in schools, worked with socially excluded groups in society, through crime-reduction work and community-based coaching sessions."

And not even relegation from the Premier League to npower League 1 inside five years has blunted the club's powerful link to the community.

"In that time, we've not reduced in size, we've grown and that's testament to the incredible work we've all put in," added Jason.

Charlton earned national recognition for its 'Street Violence Ruins Lives' education programme, which was launched three years ago, following the murder of Charlton fan Rob Knox.

Charlton even expanded their operation overseas, carrying out pioneering work in deprived communities in South Africa.

"The power of football is extraordinary, and can carry so many powerful messages and divert young people down a positive route," said Morgan.

"The Future Jobs Fund was a great example of that, offering young, out of work people a genuine chance to gain employment."

Elly Virgo, Charlton's Employment and Skills Officer, has proved a key signing for Jason's community team.

She said: "The Future Jobs did make a massive difference, giving young people the chance of proper work, rather than going to do two weeks of envelope stuffing in an office somewhere.

"At many job centres, the work advertised is generally low skilled, low wage jobs, and not necessarily appealing to young people.

"But the standard of the people who came on the Future Jobs Fund at Charlton was very high and they appreciated the chance to have that opportunity and really made the most of it."

John Blythe, who works in the accounts office at Charlton's Community Trust, said: "I've been employed permanently by Charlton for over a year now and this was a big break for me.

"I owe it all to the Future Jobs Fund. I did accountancy at college for two years and I was sending off for jobs, but people kept telling me that I had no experience.

"I was unemployed for four months and then I was working on the railway laying cable before that, which I wasn't keen on.

"But this has changed my life, giving me a great opportunity to further myself."

Hollie Varney, from Bromley, is the Community Trust's Web Officer. She added: "A lot of my friends from university are working as temps, they can't get jobs.

"But this was ideal for me because I'm looking for a job in PR, so working with the web is very useful and the Future Jobs has helped me so much."

For all the latest news on Charlton Athletic please click here