Sunderland Charity Takes On New Apprentices

9 March 2014, 06:00 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

Two teenage volunteers are helping to pilot a scheme creating apprenticeships for young people at Sunderland's Foundation of Light.

Lee Smith and Liam Grimes, both from Monkwearmouth, Sunderland struggled to find work after leaving school and began volunteering at SAFC’s official charity, the Foundation of Light, as a way to gain experience and enhance their CV.

Their dedication, which has been highlighted as part of National Apprenticeship Week, inspired the charity to establish a formal apprenticeship scheme, which has now created full-time roles for Lee, Liam and eight others.

Lee told Capital:
“I absolutely love my apprenticeship and am grateful to the Foundation of Light for making it possible. 

I want to put everything I’m learning here to good and hope to become a teaching assistant in the future.”

The Foundation of Light’s apprenticeship scheme, believed to be one of only a few run by football-based foundations in the UK, offers apprenticeships in Business and Administration, and Learning and Development, working at the charity’s head office and at various outreach centres across the North East.

Lee, 19 and Liam, 18 are both enrolled on the Business and Administration programme and are currently based at the Stadium of Light supporting the charity’s employability schemes, which help young and unemployed people across the North East to find work.

The additional eight apprentices are receiving training in Learning and Development and Business and Administration. The Learning and Development apprentices are currently working as coaches on the Foundation of Light’s sport-based programmes for young people and families, which run from centres in Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham. 

The Foundation of Light, which currently employs 169 full and part-time staff, offers a wide range of sport and education based programmes, which benefit more than 42,000 people across the North East every year. 

Its apprenticeship scheme, which is run in partnership with Peterlee-based Profound Services, will be reviewed at the end of the pilot period in July, with a view to recruiting a new crop of apprentices in the autumn.

Gemma Lavery, Head of Workforce Development at the Foundation of Light, said:
“Lee and Liam were amazing volunteers and it’s been great to be able to offer them formal, on-the-job training through the apprenticeship scheme.

All 10 candidates enrolled on the pilot programme are doing extremely well and we hope to be able to continue the programme with Profound Services into 2015 and beyond.

Here, at the Foundation of Light, we aim to give people access to opportunities that can change their lives and the apprenticeship scheme is doing just that for Lee and Liam.”

For more information about the Foundation of Light and its apprenticeship scheme visit