The Mariners have linked up with Literacy Kicks, a programme established by former Daily Mirror sports journalist Gareth Walker which encourages more children to get writing.
The scheme has been part-funded by a grant from Pitching In’s Trident Community Foundation and will see participants learn a range of reporting skills over six weeks before putting them into practice at a Marine home match.
“We have put Marine as the focal point while helping people improve their education,” said the club’s community director Graeme Gardiner.
“The results coming out of it are really positive. Using sport as that medium is really encouraging those children to get involved.
“We are looking at three to four schools for our pilot project, a mixture of primary and secondary. We are hoping the pilot project will encourage more schools to get involved and buy into it.
“I was a teacher myself for nearly 30 years and I do think the programme is a really clever way of engaging disaffected children who sometimes struggle to want to do English but using football as the medium really captures their interest.”
Literacy Kicks has been a success at Marine’s fellow Pitching In Northern Premier League club Ashton United, who found 85% per cent of participants were enjoying writing more than previously and over 60% enjoyed reading more as a result of the programme.
It is the most recent project Marine have started thanks to Trident Community Foundation funding, which has also contributed to laying on girls’ football coaching sessions at the club.
Since its inception three years ago, the TCF has handed out £440,000 in grants to clubs across the seventh and eighth tiers of English football to support community-based projects.
Gardiner added: “One of the big things we are doing now as a community club is engaging in so many different areas. We are showing the impact that we can have in our local community across the board.
“Football is great, but how many people go on to be professional players? A lot more people can go on to become educators and working to change people’s lives.
“We are operating on so many different fronts, from a community café that has over 100 elderly people come every Friday, working with disability groups, we have a walking football team for men and women that is absolutely thriving. It is a real snowball effect.
“I like to call us intergenerational. We are doing work from the very young to the very old.
“The grants from Pitching In really helps us to do these things and to put these things on either for free or for a subsidised cost.”
Find volunteering opportunities at your local club by visiting https://pitchinginvolunteers.co.uk/
Photo courtesy of Tameside Correspondent