Students from Epinay School were left brimming with confidence after completing a unique and ‘amazing’ school takeover of South Shields Football Club.

The collaboration between SSFC, its charitable Foundation and the Jarrow-based school concluded after our game against Stafford Rangers on Saturday.

Pupils in Years 10 and 11 began their process of transitioning from school into work by gaining an insight into the roles carried out in a voluntary and paid capacity at the club, ranging from financial management to ground work.

Some of them helped out on matchday, too, and after the event pupils visited The Word, in South Shields, to record their experiences and write a match report.

A bucket collection at the game and a raffle held in the week leading up to it also raised £1,550 for the school.

Epinay headteacher Chris Rue said: “We can’t thank South Shields FC enough for the amazing opportunities they have given our students this week.

“We place a heavy emphasis on preparing our young people for adulthood and trying to find creative ways for them to experience ‘real life’ work.

“We approached SSFC with the idea and they have been nothing but supportive in making this happen. It really has been a joint venture between a family football club and a local school.

“It has been amazing to see our young people involved in the experience, and I have no doubt that it will serve them well for when they leave school.

“A massive thanks to everyone involved, and hopefully this will lead to more joint initiatives in the future with the club and other local businesses who see the value in giving young people with special needs an opportunity to shine.”

The project started with some of the students attending a public consultation event related to proposals for the development and improvement of Harton Welfare, where the Foundation is based.

They helped to consult with some of the players and trustees of the Miners Welfare, asking key questions and recording the answers to be included in the consultation report alongside those made later in the day by local residents.

Catering students spent time at Harton Welfare and served the players breakfast ahead of training, while those with a keener interest in sport designed and delivered a session for the squad.

There was a meeting with club chief executive Lee Picton and Foundation manager Steve Camm, before pupils completed a management task to help understand how expenditure is prioritised across club and Foundation activities.

Students also met with the club’s head of physiotherapy and medical, Andrew Morris, to understand the role he plays at the club.

Then it was all about the ground staff, with Epinay pupils gaining an understanding of the roles and work required to keep the sites at 1st Cloud Arena and Harton Welfare in great condition.

The students also planted up 10 planters, which are now located in the beer garden at Harton Welfare. The planting boxes and plants were kindly donated by the Supporters Alliance using money collected from the weekly Irish Lottery draw. They complement the picnic benches which had previously been funded by the Alliance.

The week concluded with some students helping with matchday stewarding and matchday hospitality at Saturday’s game, with over 100 students from the school also attending a matchday play park ahead of the match, and several others serving as mascots and flagbearers.

SSFC Foundation manager Steve Camm said: “We are delighted to have worked on this project with our friends at Epinay School.

“It’s always a pleasure to visit the school and this new venture was exciting, and we hope of benefit to the students.

“Our role within the community is so much more than what happens on the pitch on a Saturday. The social impact we create is equally important to us.

“Part of that is creating volunteering and employment opportunities for local people who in turn deliver activities that support the health and well-being of our community.

“We do so much more than football – press and media, accountancy, office administration, retail sales, hospitality and sports coaching to name just some.”

South Shields Football Club and its charitable Foundation have teamed up with Epinay School to help excited students kick-start their transition from school to work.

The club’s first ‘school takeover’ began this week as part of a project aimed at Year 10 and 11 students from Epinay, based in Jarrow.

The collaboration is the latest link-up between the Mariners and Epinay, with the club demonstrating to students the roles which are filled in a voluntary and paid capacity.

SSFC Foundation manager Steve Camm said: “We are delighted to be working on this project with our friends at Epinay School.

“It’s always a pleasure to visit the school and to be able to launch this new venture is exciting, and we hope of benefit to the students.

“Our role within the community is so much more than what happens on the pitch on a Saturday. The social impact we create is equally important to us.

“Part of that is creating volunteering and employment opportunities for local people who in turn deliver activities that support the health and well-being of our community.

“We do so much more than football – press and media, accountancy, office administration, retail sales, hospitality and sports coaching to name just some.”

The project with Epinay is designed to help the students experience some of the job roles and activities at the club in a week-long ‘takeover’ comprising a number of experiences.

It started last Friday, when students attended a public consultation event related to proposals for the development and improvement of Harton Welfare, where the Foundation is based.

Epinay pupils helped to consult with some of the club’s first-team players and trustees of the Miners Welfare, asking key questions and recording the answers to be included in the consultation report.

Catering students have also spent time at the Welfare and served breakfast to the players ahead of training, while those with a keener interest in sport delivered a session to players after training.

Further activities are planned in the coming days, with children set to gain an insight into the management, medical and pitch departments of the club, before helping out with stewarding and hospitality at Saturday’s home game against Stafford Rangers.

A mobile vaccine team is to visit 1st Cloud Arena ahead of Saturday’s game against Radcliffe, offering first, second and booster doses to anyone aged 12 or over.

The Pfizer vaccine will be available from a minibus next to turnstiles one and two between 10am and 3pm, with no appointment necessary.

It comes as the UK continued to record a large daily number of COVID-19 infections, with health chiefs urging people to get jabbed to protect themselves and others.

Those aged 18 and over are eligible for the Covid-19 booster jab three months – 91 days – after their second dose.

South Shields FC Foundation Manager and Covid Community Champion Steve Camm said: “The Foundation is committed to providing information and access to services that support health and well-being.

“We are really looking forward to hosting a mobile vaccine clinic ahead of kick-off on Saturday at 1st Cloud Arena. We hope it is something people will choose to participate in to help protect themselves and others.

“We’d like to see as many people as possible choosing to take up this opportunity to get their jab ahead of Saturday’s game.”

Community COVID-19 champions will be on hand to spread the word and answer any questions from patients on the day.

Local GP Dr John Lloyd is part of the team leading the borough’s vaccine effort. Dr Lloyd said: “This is all about bringing the vaccine into the community to make it as easy as possible to protect yourself from the virus.

“It’s handy for fans before the game and people working on the industrial estate, and it’s a short walk from Bede Metro station if you’re coming from another area.

“Here’s to keeping safe from COVID and a home win for the Mariners!”

A range of other drop-in clinics are taking place throughout the week at Flagg Court in South Shields, St John the Baptist Church in Jarrow, the Glen Health Centre in Hebburn, and other local venues. Full details are available at www.getyourjab.uk.

Councillor Anne Hetherington, South Tyneside Council’s Lead Member for Independence and Well-being, said: “If you’re off to the match on Saturday, it makes perfect sense to take advantage of this opportunity.

“Case rates are very high in the borough at the moment, so I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t yet had their vaccine to come along to the walk-in clinic and do the right thing for themselves and their community.”

If you have any questions about your vaccine, contact the National Booking Service, call 119 or the local vaccine contact centre on 0191 283 1925.