This October is Black History Month, the theme of which this year is 'Proud to Be', with black people throughout the United Kingdom being invited to share what they are proud of about themselves, their history and their achievements.

At Southampton Football Club, we have been speaking to some of our very own staff members, who are sharing the stories of their own journeys into sport, with the hope this can inspire more black people to consider and pursue a career in football.

Our first colleague to feature is Jake Plummer, Casual Community Engagement Worker with Saints Foundation...

My journey started when I was severely suffering with mental health problems and was in a very dark place. I was referred onto the Saints Foundation and joined the 12-week programme that was a light to guide me out of this dark place I had fallen into.

During my time on the programme, I made massive progress in my life. I gained my confidence back, learnt about interview preparation, communication skills, built a routine, and built up self-worth and a positive outlook on life which prepared me to get back out looking for work.

Alongside this, I was involved in street football sessions now known as Sports Hub. The sessions benefited not only my physical health but also my mental health. I was selected to represent the club to play in a street football tournament in Belgium. Opportunities continued coming my way and I was put forward to play for the England Street Football team. I trained and had trials at St George’s Park and was selected to represent the country to play in the street football World Cup.

Once my time had come to end at Saints Foundation, I was ready to go back into work. The beautiful thing is your time doesn’t really end once you’ve been a part of the Foundation, it’s like one big family. I did a whole host of different jobs from cleaning dishes, to driving new showroom cars to customers. I always had a goal to one day work for Saints Foundation in some way, so I got involved in volunteering down at Sports Hub.

A job opportunity came up as a Casual Community Engagement Coach, so I gave it a shot and landed myself the role. The programmes and sessions I use to attend, I now work on, relating to the younger generation to show them it’s possible and to be a positive role model.

I empower individuals to improve their health, wellbeing and social welfare.

I really enjoy seeing the progress of the young people and being in the community making a positive impact for the future generation. Also, the beauty of being a casual employee means I can work on different programmes within the Foundation.

The advice I’d give to a younger me or someone looking to follow in similar footsteps would be take risk, come out of your comfort zone, it’s okay to need or ask for help. Communication is key, stay positive, and what you put into life you’ll get out of life.

I’d say career wise, the proudest moment to date is working on the programmes I once was on and being able to help people who are in the same boat I was once in. Also, meeting Prince William during the pandemic through the voluntary work at the Royal South Hants Hospital was a pretty cool and proud moment for me. On a personal level, my proudest moment is and always will be being a dad to my son, Roman Jae Plummer. He is my pride and joy.

Diversity is important in all businesses and everyday life alike, because bringing people together from various backgrounds with all different life experiences is one of the most beneficial ways of learning and growing. It lets us in on other people’s ideas and perspectives that others may not have ever considered. Diversity also increases an understanding of the world and sets a very important example and message for the next generations to come.