Saints Foundation – we are Southampton Football Club's way of giving back. And that's never been more true than in the amazing story of Sammy, who found a job at St Mary's and crossed paths with her heroes, James Ward-Prowse and Jack Stephens, thanks to her club and its charity.
Just one year ago, Samantha was out of work and looking for a new direction in life. Aged 23, she didn’t feel confident that she could achieve what she wanted to and didn’t know if she had the right experience or skills to find work.
Signposted into Saints Foundation's employability programme, Saints Works, Sammy's outlook quickly brightened. She engaged with 12 weeks of workshops, employer visits and sports sessions, and then continued to receive support through our Sports Hub sessions for a further three months. A self-described "Saints mega-fan", a big bonus for Sammy was coming into St Mary's Stadium multiple times each week, going behind the curtain at her club for every session.
During this time, Sammy threw herself into all kinds of activities to open her horizons and increase her chance of getting into work. This varied from being the only female player in a Saints Works squad participating in a Hampshire FA and Mind mental health football tournament, to a mock interview with the Southampton Engineering Training Association (SETA) – although she eventually found work even closer to home.
Our employability team supported Sammy with interviewing for a job in hospitality and catering at St Mary's, an opportunity opened up by the programme's partnership with Southampton FC's event partner Gather & Gather. She now works in the concourse kiosks on matchdays, serving fans when they visit the stadium to watch the Saints in action.
Employability Projects Coordinator Eloise Coster reflected on Sammy's full circle journey, saying: "Sammy has grown in confidence and is a bright shining example of how a positive attitude can support you to be the best that you can be. She's an excellent role model to her peers and has worked really hard to gain employment."
In recognition of her amazing journey with the Foundation and path into employment with the club, Virgin Media and Southampton FC arranged the ultimate surprise for Sammy – giving her the chance to challenge her football idols, James Ward-Prowse and Jack Stephens, in a virtual gaming experience that saw the players beamed into the room as super realistic 4k holograms. Check out Sammy's awestruck reaction here: