The Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust works across the country, helping disadvantaged young people fulfil their potential and aspirations. It also offers athletes coming to the end of their professional sporting career the chance to learn new skills and put the skills they used in their sporting disciplines into action.
We caught up with Dame Kelly before her training session at Reading FC’s Madejski Stadium for the Reading Half Marathon, where she talked about the great work that the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust does:
“The Trust helps disadvantaged kids and those not in education or employment. We have around 100 athletes working at the Trust, including former world champions from a variety of disciplines – such as Adam Whitehead, the Commonwealth champion in the 2002 Games and 1998 European Championships for swimming, and Jane Couch – boxing world champion.
“We have athletes across the country and we try to get to as many different places around the UK as possible. Any money raised in the region is put back into the same area and we have some great links with some of our partnership events – like the Reading Half Marathon.”
Dame Kelly told us that it was not just for young people. “The charity helps to provide the tools for children to fulfil their aspirations but it helps sport people up-skill to set them up after their competitive career is winding down.”
Kelly Holmes explained that many young people on the programme were not in work or education before enrolling in the charity’s Get on Track Programme, which can last for up to 10 weeks.
“We have three key components to our Get on Track programme. Step one is ‘On your Marks’ where the young people are taught communication skills and how to interact with each other. Step two is ‘Get Set’, where they might be given community tasks such as volunteering at a race, such as the Reading Half Marathon. This helps build teamwork and working with and for others. ‘Go’ is the final step, where all those who took part can use the skills they’ve learnt to get back into the school system, to volunteer, become apprentices or enter employment. It’s a celebration of their achievements.
‘We spend 10 weeks with the young people engaging with them, building up their skills. For some of them, setting foot into the building to take part is the hardest task, but we know that if they are still there at the end of the first day, then they are likely to go right through the programme.”
Dame Kelly shared one particular example of Andy from Reading. “He came onto the programme with little self-confidence and was not in education or employment. Now he is a self-employed fitness instructor. We’ve got lots of stories like this and we can really see the change in people after they’ve started – and finished the course. Like I said, the most important thing is getting them there and if they are still in their seat at the end of the first day then we know they will finish the course.
“We’ve seen a real change in the people that have taken part.”