“I have seen a lot of young people ‘written off’ before being given a chance and I want to change that” – Martin Ingham
As much as inspirational figures come, Martin Ingham is a man worthy of all laudable accolades. The 27-year-old who grew up in Old Trafford designed a volunteering programme whose aim is to “give young people a platform to make something of themselves”.
Employed by Manchester United Foundation, the Project Coordinator is selfless. What was – in conception at least – a work placement programme constructed for a university mark, has now turned into a programme built to inspire a new generation.
Volunteer Ninety Nine is a unique leadership programme for young people and is a flagship programme for the Manchester United Foundation. Its focus is on 16 to 25-year-olds that volunteer their time at Manchester United Foundation projects based throughout Greater Manchester. Mentoring and putting participants through qualifications, the program improves people’s employability and can lead to participants gaining valuable work experience to be able to continue working within sport and find a way into a career.
The volunteer programme, although worthy of attention, is just one of the multiple aspects germinating out of Mr Ingham’s passion and background. What chiefly emanates from the Program Coordinator is his inspiring vision and drive to help local young people.
Mr Ingham grew up in a time lacking in positive opportunities for young people. “In my late teens, Manchester was in the second wave of the gang issues. I recognised that there is so much negativity around young people in Manchester, where it was so much easier to get into something bad rather than something good”.
Instrumental in his turning point in his youth was The nXt Gen youth organisation who “steered me into this career through their intervention. It is the exact impact I’m trying to have now for young people through Manchester United Foundation and the Volunteer Ninety Nine programme. Massive thanks to Nicole and Reaghelle at NXTgen whose guidance was second to none.”
Having seen 14 of his participants in the past year land meaningful employment from Volunteer Ninety Nine, Ingham spoke of the long-term benefits of the programme. He added “Regardless of which club they support, why shouldn’t our local young people aspire to work for Manchester United? I’m in a position where I’m part of one of the biggest companies on the planet so I’m trying to provide opportunities for young people and really give them a chance to do better and be better”.
TNT Sports Yasin Chinembiri