Football legend Ian Wright hails the power of sport to transform young people's lives

11th June 2015

Press Release, Berkeley Foundaiton, Street Elite, Ian Wright
  • Sport and mentoring praised for helping young Londoners escape the lure of gangs and crime
  • 80% of participants successfully moved into education or employment
  • Street Elite has now helped 200 young people from London estates find a job or get into college.

At an event in Tower Hamlets today (Thursday 11 June), England and Arsenal legend Ian Wright praised the pioneering Street Elite programme for helping young adults, living on some of London's toughest estates, turn their lives around.

Street Elite is a training for work programme, run by youth charity The Change Foundation in partnership with the Berkeley Foundation.  It involves 9 months of intensive coaching and mentoring, designed to help young adults find a job or get into college.

South Londoner Ian said today: "These young men and women are recruited face-to-face on some of the toughest estates in London. Nine months later, they believe in themselves and starting to make a real success of their lives. It shows you the power of sport and great youth work."

Street Elite announced today that 200 young people have gone through the programme; and 80% of these participants have successfully moved into education, training or employment.  13 have landed permanent jobs with the Berkeley Group. They are now helping to sell new homes and manage building sites across the capital.

One of them, Victor Gbenoba, dropped out of college when he was 17 and got involved in the wrong crowd:

"I was walking around the estate one day when I met Si from Street Elite. He told me about the programme and asked if I wanted to join. I started attending the training sessions in January.

A few months in, I was stabbed and hospitalised for three days. But the programme inspired me to keep going. I made it to every session, even when I couldn't join in with the sport.

Then my coach recommended me for a 2 week placement with Berkeley. Now I'm working full time for them, on a good salary at their site on Kensington High Street. I do their paperwork for construction and sustainability reporting. Having a job makes my mum proud."

Rob Perrins, Managing Director of the Berkeley Group, commented: "We want to get more and more disengaged young people reconnected with the world of work. This is our future workforce and that makes it a real issue for business. It's why Berkeley are partners in Street Elite and put so much emphasis on creating new jobs for young Londoners".

Andy Sellins, Chief Executive of the Change Foundation, summed up the initiative: 'Seeing young people start their first job is one of the most rewarding parts of our work and Street Elite is all about making this happen'. 

Notes to Editors

  1. Photography of Ian Wright with some of the young people involved in Street Elite will be available by 1.00pm on Thursday 4th May from
  2. Youth unemployment:
    • 735,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed between January and March 2015, down 140,000 on the previous year.
    • Young people remain nearly three times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
    • In London, the rate of joblessness for 18-24 year olds is 2.64 times as high as the rate for the whole workforce.
    • The number of Black and Minority Ethnic young adults aged 16 to 24 who have been out of work for more than 12 months increased to 41,000 in March 2015. It accounts for one-fifth of youth unemployment, according to an analysis of official figures by the House of Commons Library and the Office for National Statistics.
    • The youth unemployment rate is 14.4% in Britain. In Germany it is 8%.
  3. The Change Foundation is an award winning UK based charity which has been using the sport to change the lives of disadvantaged young people in London, the UK and across the world for over 30 years.
  4. The Berkeley Foundation is a registered company supported by house-builder the Berkeley Group. It has so far committed over £6million to helping young people and their communities.

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