Community Trust Careers Day

Jay Gilbert Social Inclusion Officer


Former Reading striker Dave Kitson and current Royal Ryan Edwards both took time to attend the Community Trust’s Careers Day at Madejski Stadium on Tuesday. 

Hosted in the Royals Suite by Community Cohesion Officer Jay Gilbert and attended by students from the John Madejski Academy, the day focused around promoting career opportunities within football and employability skills.

Along with Kitson and Edwards, Sky Sports presenter Amy Lewis also spoke to the students about her path into the sports media industry and, afterwards, members of Reading’s staff from various departments answered questions about their routes into their respective jobs.

The Professional Football Association and Union Learning Fund provided the funding for the event, with the day being deemed a great success by everyone involved.
Ryan Edwards meeting pupils at the Careers Day
Riz Rehman, a PFA and ULF project worker, said: “Reading Football Club put on a great event and had a number of local partners present. It was pleasing to see Dave Kitson spend the whole day talking to young people about his own footballing journey and passing on advice.

“Dave had a very unconventional route into the game which many of the young people present can relate to. It was clear to see that Dave is very enthusiastic about Reading’s Community Trust programme and was actively encouraging the young people to open their minds and lend their time to community programmes.”

The PFA added: “The PFA and Unionlearn ‘Achievement Through Sport’ project works closely with football clubs and their Community Trusts to assist them in promoting the learning agenda to the wider community, including certain disadvantaged or ‘hard-to-reach’ people in society such as those facing redundancy, the digitally excluded and the elderly.

“The ULF supports union learning projects to transform the lives of their members in developing skills, achieving qualifications and promoting lifelong learning opportunities within the workplace.”


Reading FC Community Trust – Caring For Kenya


Reading FC Caring For Kenya
Kenya. An African country on the east coast of the continent, on the equatorial line, who most will know the basics about. Its capital is Nairobi, it has Africa’s second-tallest peak – Mount Kenya, it spawns countless long-distance runners, is world famous for its safaris and has a population of in excess of 44 million people. But perhaps few recognise the problems the country has to deal with in terms of widespread poverty.

In September, a group of 23 people representing Reading Football Club and its Community Trust left Berkshire for the coast of the Indian Ocean, raising enough money to travel to Kenya to work on a range of fantastic community projects. Christened ‘Caring for Kenya’, and run in partnership with African Adventures, our volunteers undertook building work at a deprived school in the area, coached football to young budding African stars of the future and taught the local community, all as part of an aid trip that proved an incredible success and inspirational to all the volunteers to made the trip.

Reading FC Caring For Kenya

Many of our volunteers already had inspirational stories of their own, many having graduated through the club’s Community Trust courses, turning their lives around after exclusion from school or leaving care to become part-time youth workers and role models for others to follow. But this trip was an eye-opener for one and all. The estimated population of Kenya is in excess of 44 million and an astonishing 16 million do not having access to safe water! 71% of the Kenyan population do not have access to a toilet. A 20-litre container of water weighs approximately 20 kilos and local women walk an average distance of 10 kilometres daily to get clean water. These facts put some of our everyday problems into perspective.

Coaching is what comes naturally to many of our Community Trust team and out on the football field, suddenly everyone was equal. Smiles on faces were there for all to enjoy and free football kit was supplied to a huge number of young boys and girls who just love to kick a ball about…

Reading FC Caring For Kenya

Some of the members of the group paid a visit to Destiny School, where money that has been donated went towards the building of a kitchen area for the kids…

The project was entirely self-funded, with the group raising a massive £32,000 for the trip over the course of almost a year of fundraising. “This project gave us the privileged opportunity to make a real difference. We’d like to thank all the Reading fans who donated to the cause and allowed us to help communities desperately in need of all the aid they can get.” Aston Villa, Derby County and West Bromwich Albion are all set to follow in our footsteps next summer, embarking on their own African Adventures aid trip. We at Reading Football Club consider ourselves proud to have been involved.
Reading FC Caring For Kenya

Jay Gilbert, Reading Football Club’s Community Trust Cohesion Officer, wrote a personal account of her trip to a local centre out there…

Myself and the team of Richard, Mark, Shelley, Louis, Lloyd, Pierro and Luke went to volunteer at the walking centre and primary school. It was a trip which changed our lives as soon as we stepped through the gates. Our first thoughts were ones filled with overwhelming emotion, as the local children began singing to us as a welcome, children who had nothing, were wearing ripped clothes and were all without shoes. Yet they all seemed so happy!

The centre was a primary school for kids aged between 3 years and 9 years, local children who lived at the dump site, more than 70% of whom had no parents and were fending for themselves or looked after by older children in their family or community. The centre also had a feeding programme for the older children that attended a local school down the road; this meant at lunchtime more than 300 children were able to have one meal a day that the centre provided for them.

The centre has been established since 2007 and is the longest standing project to help the local children of Nakuru. With the help of our funding they have managed to build a dining hall to facilitate the feeding programme and the centre also have set up a textile room for the local mums to put there sewing skills to great use, making school uniform and giving them the chance to sell clothes to help feed their families.

We were based in a profoundly poor area where families live on less than 75p per day! All eight of us helped out with teaching four separate classes – from reading, writing and maths, delivered to all age groups. We also helped out in the main kitchen, fulfilling a range of duties to feed the 300 plus children who came to us for lunch. We were preparing and cooking 25 cabbages, a daily routine at the centre, which went with ‘ugali’ a type of flour, and water, which eventually served all the children. All of this is normally done by one member of staff when there are no volunteers to help.

Reading FC Caring For Kenya

With the help of the donations that Reading fans played a big part in, we were able to give skipping ropes, footballs, teddies, loom bands as well as the donations of clothes and shoes to the children which was an incredibly humbling experience for all of us as we handed them to the children. The best part of the project for all of us was teaching the children and the teachers new songs and games and seeing how much they enjoyed what we were doing. It was amazing.

Throughout the whole week it was emotional rollercoaster for us all. We felt so happy to be there to be able to help and at the same time we all realised how lucky we are with just a good pair of trainers on our feet.

As a group we achieved so much. Personally, and as a part of the Reading FC Community Trust group that travelled out there, it was the children who made it so special. The kids that we helped have shaken our worlds and it has only made us want to continue and offer long-term support to the wonderful children and staff whose sprits lifted you as soon as a smile stretched across their faces.

Gareth McCleary visits Prince’s Trust session!


Gareth McCleary with members of Prince's Trust

Garath McCleary recently paid a visit to a Prince’s Trust coaching course at the Reading Football Club Indoor Training Centre, run in conjunction with the Reading FC Community Trust. The partnership has been in existence for 9 years with the course helping those aged 16-25 who are Not in Education Employment or Training (NEET). The course helps the participants gain their FA Level 1 coaching badge, get them off the streets and onto a more positive path. This represents a unique and valuable opportunity for the young people that take part to gain a useful qualification and build confidence in their abilities. With two intakes a year in October and March, the week long course has helped over 100 young people gain the first coaching qualification on the FA’s coaching pathway. On receiving their coaching qualification, individuals have the chance to put their new skills into action through the Reading FC Community Trust’s coaching programme, with the possibility of securing a full-time role with the Trust.

Richard Witt, Social Inclusion Manager for the Trust spoke about how the course is a great way of engaging hard to reach young people in the local area, “It gives them (the participants) a chance to take part in sport, get motivated and raise self-esteem with a chance to get qualified and maybe gain employment with us at the football club.” With 12 apprentices already employed by the Trust, 9 of which have come directly from the Prince’s Trust course, it shows young people that if they focus and work hard there are opportunities for them.

No one knows more about the benefits of hard work and overcoming difficult situations than Reading’s Garath McCleary, who was on hand to speak about his experiences growing up in a questions & answer session with the Prices Trust group. “In terms of football I’ve been knocked back on numerous occasions, even from Reading when I was 16 I was told I was too small. Oxford United said when I was 18 that if I didn’t get the contract then I may as well give up so you’re always going to get knocked back, but if you 100% believe in yourself  and you’re 100% committed then anything can be possible.” The 27-year-old was also quizzed by the group on what qualities the best coaches and managers he’s played under have had and he said “I think it’s definitely someone that will encourage and listen to whatever the players have to say, will be stern and strong with their thoughts but always want to listen to the players.”

Gareth McCleary Visit

The Reading number 12 was then asked about his favourite players, goal, and the toughest opponents he’s faced before signing autographs and posing for photos with the group. Speaking afterwards he reflected on the session saying “I think it’s brilliant what the club are doing with the Princes Trust and it’s something I would like to back and I look forward to hearing how it’s going.” While in terms of why he likes to come along to sessions like these the winger said “where I used to live there’s not many role models or many people that will come and speak to you so if there’s someone that can come in and give their experiences hopefully I can do that.”

With a return to first team action close, McCleary will be hoping he can get back to inspiring young people on the pitch as well as off it and keep showing that hard work and overcoming setbacks really does pay off.

For more information on the Princes Trust course and Reading FC Community Trust’s social inclusion programme please contact Richard Witt:

It’s a walk over for the Reading FC Community Trust

Reading FC Walking Football

Written by Phil Owtram

‘Trying to walk the ball in’ is usually associated with football teams without a clinical edge to their play, but that is exactly what participants of the over 50s club at Loddon Valley Leisure Centre have been trying to do.

Over the past few weeks coaches from the Reading FC Community Trust have been running free walking football sessions.  The group consists of a mix of men and women, many of whom have never played football before, but wanted to try a new sport at a pace that suited them.

It’s easy to assume that this is a form of football without energy, intensity or even competitiveness, but you would be wrong to think that.  After a warm up which included some walking shuttle runs, followed by dribbling drills and shooting practise, the participants were split into three teams to compete in some small sided games. Instantly you could see the competitive spirit within the group, with many having to hold themselves back from breaking into a run. This form of the game focuses on bringing football back to basics, with more reliance on ball control than athletic ability and provides a way into the game for those who may have thought their playing days were behind them.  Player of the match Cassy Pope, 61 said she would recommend walking football to anybody because “It’s great fun, very sociable and a way of getting fit!”

Reading FC Walking Football - Cassy Pope

The group have high ambitions too, with Tony, 71 saying: “We’re going to get into the league and take over the globe!” only for one of his team mates to reply “Is that the Globe Theatre?!” showing that the banter isn’t just confined to the Reading FC dressing room! Joking aside, the enthusiasm on show was clear for all to see and many expressed their intentions to carry on playing once the 10 week course comes to an end.

Reading FC Walking Football

Dave Evans, Reading FC Community Trust Manager, spoke about why he was so keen to have the Trust introduce walking football as part of its offering: “Knowing that our fan base here at Reading FC is made up of at least a quarter who are in this category (over the age of 50) and with the National Health Service and other Health organisations always looking for ways to get older people active, it seemed a good way to engage this age group.” The Reading FC Community Trust will be working alongside the Berks and Bucks FA and Get Berkshire Active to deliver more sessions of walking football in the near future.

For more information on walking football or the other activities carried out by Reading FC Community Trust please email

Hope and Aaron crackers about Reading FC Community Trust

Written by Phil Owtram

Reading FC Community Trust Social Inclusion Ambassador Hope Akpan and team mate Aaron Tshibola showed their competitive spirit in a different setting, when they visited Southcote Youth & Community Centre last Thursday evening. Both players took part in the ‘Cream Cracker challenge’ alongside members of Southcote Youth Club organised by staff from Reading FC Community Trust. The aim of the challenge was to eat three cream crackers in ninety seconds and although no one was close to the 33.03 second world record Aaron Tshibola showed he has talent away from the football field when he polished off his three cream crackers within the allotted timeframe. This activity was just one of those enjoyed by the members of the Youth Club who also had the chance to take on the players at a game of FIFA, much to their delight! Hope and Aaron then posed for a photograph with the young people, before signing autographs.


The Reading FC Community Trust runs eight other Youth Clubs for 11-19 year olds in the Reading area, as part of their social inclusion programme.  Dan Walker and Jade Beaumont help run the Southcote Youth Club on behalf of the trust and emphasised the key role it plays in bringing the local community together. They also spoke about Reading Football Club’s Kicks project in partnership with the Premier League, which uses the power of football to engage with young people and break down barriers between them and the police to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. Jade said “Since Kicks has come onto the scene, numbers in youth clubs have gone up, the crime rate has gone down and it’s now a big part of the youth system.” The project runs a number of football, alternative sports and activities sessions during the week, with the aim of developing the potential of the young people in the local area. The young people also have the opportunity to compete in Kicks tournaments against teams representing other professional football clubs, as well as learning life skills, going on trips and receiving talks from the police on gun and knife crime.


Previous attendees of Kicks sessions have gone onto work for the Community Trust, including Dan who started attending Kicks sessions five years ago, at the age of sixteen and now works for the trust delivering football sessions and running Southcote Youth Club. Jade who also helps run the Youth Club participated in a Prince’s Trust course, organised by Reading Football Club and then went onto secure a permanent position working for the Community Trust. Reading Football Club are providing funding for Dan and Jade to complete their coaching badges, whilst they have also had the opportunity to gain other qualifications in first aid, health and safety, youth work and blind football to name but a few. This shows the power of the Trust’s activities in not only engaging and developing young people but helping create role models in the community from those it helps; Dan commented on this saying “You look at the kids and think we were like that” and this he said helps to relate to them and gains their respect.


It is clear what great work the Club and the Trust do in the community and both Dan and Jade praised the players for coming down and supporting their activities saying: “When players like Hope and Aaron come down it gives the kids a role model and it’s brilliant that they take the time out to come down here and see them.” While  Dan said: “It’s nice to have the local players that play in the team come down and meet the kids because they realise they can talk to them like normal guys.” Joel, 13 who has been coming to the Youth Club regularly over the past year expressed his delight in meeting Hope and Aaron after already having the chance to have met Adam Federici on a previous occasion.

The Community Trust has a whole programme of activities available to young people in Reading and the surrounding area free of charge, for more information please visit the Reading Football Community Trust website.


hope2In his ambassadorial role for our Community Trust, midfield maestro Hope Akpan visited one of the Trust’s youth clubs at the Coley Community Centre last Thursday, a club that runs every Thursday between 7pm – 9pm. He took part in a host of activities with the youngsters, playing FIFA on the Xbox before shooting some hoops and playing pool with the group, celebrating the club as a warm and safe environment for young people to visit. Hope signed autographs and posed for photos on the day – if you want to visit one of our Community Trust youth clubs, simply pop in and sign up on the day. Lots of youth clubs are running around the Reading area – for more information please contact

Community round up

Latest from around town

A round-up of plenty of recent activities in and around the Reading community – read up on what’s been going on!

Leigertwood visit
Royals midfielder Mikele Leigertwood took time out from his recovery from injury and visited local youngsters at the ‘Smiles Club’ at Tilehurst Youth Centre, where he signed items and posed for photos. Ledge played “Name the Reading player” with the youngsters as they looked at the team photo.

“The Smiles Provision is a target youth group for young people with various learning disabilities. The projects aim is to meet the needs of young people through personal and social development activities and to hence young people’s independence.”


Adkins at Reading College
Manager Nigel Adkins took a trip Reading College for their annual celebration night. The Royals boss took time to talk to a huge number of staff and students, some with special needs. Adkins presented each and every one of them with a certificate, posed for photos and signed autographs for one and all.


Show Racism The Red Card
Local youngsters listened to two interesting Show Racism The Red Card workshops at the Dome, and learned about the history of racism in football. Football Artist Colin Yates spoke on the history of racism while former player Paul Mortimer led a workshop. Then, ex-England striker Luther Blissett also took questions from the children.


Primary Schools visit
Local youngsters from Primary Schools in under-privileged areas played in a tournament at the Dome by Madejski Stadium. Afterwards, Kingsley paid a special visit and awarded all participants with a certificate!


Prince’s Trust
Don’t miss out on the 12-week personal development programme, starting on the 20th January 2014 at Madejski Stadium!

– Hours are 10-4pm Monday to Friday
– For 16-25 years old not in work or full time education.
– It does not effect benefits
– Includes a weeks residential work, team building activities and other outward bounds activities – for example, rock climbing and archery.
– Community project included: Involving planning, fund raising and doing something to give back to the community – for example, decorating a scout hut/ cleaning up a school garden.
– With our help, we find a work placement for young people to do for two weeks of the programme within an area they are interested in.
– By the end of the programme the young people will leave with an NVQ level 1 in Teamwork and Community work.
– Interested?! Contact Alex McSweeney on or visit for more info.



Hope & Pearce at Kicks


04:50 7th November 2013

Duo attend huge tournament

Last week, Madejski Stadium’s Indoor Training Dome held a huge Kickz tournament which saw more than 100 youngsters do battle.An under-15 group enjoyed their session in the morning before an under-19s group came together to take part in the tournament in the afternoon.

Royals centre-half Alex Pearce and midfielder Hope Akpan came along to the event in the afternoon, interacting with the local youngsters from the Reading community and watching some of the games, before signing autographs and posing for photos with one and all.

The Kickz sessions are designed to engage with young people that are hard to reach, and target the most disadvantaged areas of Reading with the aim of “creating safer, stronger, more respectful communities through the development of young people.”

The tournament took place during half term to support the ‘Kick it Out’ campaign and educate young people on important modern day issues. All participants received goodies such as Kick It Out wristbands, Royals team photos and car stickers.

The Kickz statistics for South and West Reading for the last year demonstrate what exceptional work is being done by Reading Football Club’s Community Trust with young men and women who have previously been hard to reach.
Almost 600 young people took part in one of 436 sessions run as part of our Kickz initiatives last year, Almost 1,000 hours were spent with these young people, both male and female, and almost half of those people were aged between 16-19 years old – traditionally the hardest age group to engage with.

158 qualifications were achieved in total, with 175 young people volunteering in some capacity as part of the project. Many trips and visits were organised, such as the pictured trip to the London dungeons during the summer, and 22 young people performed either before or during half time at a Royals first team game, showcasing their different talents and improving their confidence in front of our home supporters. And all of the above was provided free of charge of course, evidence that Reading Football Club’s Community Trust continue to deliver an incredible service to the local community through Kickz.


Out in the Community


15:21 23rd October 2013

Royals strikers out on the town

Cheering from the sidelines and cooking up a storm – our players have been as busy as ever in the local community over the last few days!
On Friday 18th October Adam Le Fondre headed down to Crosfields School for the Under 9 Primary Schools Football Festival.
Alfie gave some words of encouragement to the participants, and watched on from the touchline throughout a very entertaining set of matches – before handing out trophies at the close of play.
Reading’s number nine also posed for photos and signed autographs – and obviously felt inspired, as he of course went on to score in our 4-1 demolition of Doncaster Rovers!LeFondre460

Another goalscorer this week was Nick Blackman, who was on target for a Reading X1 against Bournemouth at Hogwood Park on Tuesday afternoon – but instead of putting his feet up, joined Jason Roberts at Hexham Youth Club that evening for a special Caribbean Cooking Workshop!
The event took place as part of the Reading FC Community Trust’s new Community Cohesion initiative, and the strikers even tried their hand at table tennis and pool with the girls and boys, before serving up a flavour filled meal.
The chef at the youth club was Anton Scotland, a man who grew up on the Hexham estate, who said “I know very well how important it is to reach out to kids on estates such as these and how vital so it is always a privilege to welcome Reading Football Club’s Community Trust Cohesion team to our youth club.”
The evening was all part of a new three-year Community Cohesion Liaison project, supported by the Premier League and our Community Trust – Shelley Alexander from the Premier League was at Madejski Stadium on Saturday to meet our Community Cohesion officer Jay Gilbert and some of the kids her projects are reaching in the Reading area. Through the power of football we aim to make a difference, empowering our club to create opportunities at the heart of our community, bringing people together and changing lives for the better.