How Premiership Rugby's HITZ programme provided Liam Duffy with dream apprenticeship and platform to experience a happier life

Posted by SCL Education Group on 04.03.19

For much of his life, Liam Duffy suffered with anxiety and low confidence. As well as this having a negative impact upon his social wellbeing, Liam subsequently struggled to complete his GCSEs and was unsure about his next move.

Not actively pursuing guidance, the Worcester based individual was referred to HITZ, Premiership Rugby’s education and employability programme, by a key worker. Liam’s local HITZ programme was offered by Premiership Rugby club, Worcester Warriors, a team he had followed since a young age. After completing a HITZ taster week three years ago, Liam never looked back.

Although shy at first, Liam participated in HITZ for two years and was exposed to various sporting activities such as rugby, football, rock climbing, snowboarding, skiing and go-karting, and additionally experienced enrichment activities including volunteering at Worcester Warrior’s Dementia Café and homeless & blind rugby sessions.

Liam established significant trust amongst his HITZ tutors through participating in such activities, and in turn became the confident and outgoing individual he is today. One of his HITZ tutors, Dan Hart, noticed the vast development in Liam’s personality since joining.

“HITZ’s sport offering played a crucial role in progressing Liam’s confidence and character,” said Dan. “Liam took on increasing amounts of responsibility and shortly became a leading figure on the programme. It was during Liam’s second year when he really ventured out of his shell. The relationships he built with his peers and tutors is a testament to his incredible commitment which maximised the potential he demonstrated since day one.”

Dan continued: “His success is no surprise as he successfully maintained a 100% attendance record throughout his two years with HITZ. Liam is always willing and possesses an exceptional attitude.”

As part of this remarkable transformation, Liam gained several qualifications and achievements during his participation on the flagship Premiership Rugby programme, including BTEC Level 1 and 2, Employability Level 1, Fitness Instructor Level 2 and Maths and English courses.

Now aged 19 years, Liam’s hard work was rewarded when Worcester Warriors offered him an apprenticeship at the end of his second year with HITZ. Working as part of Worcester Warriors’ Community Foundation, Liam primarily supports the Foundation with their delivery work in schools. Much to Liam’s delight, Worcester Warriors enable Liam to continue his work with both the Blind and Homeless rugby teams and Dementia Café, whilst additionally playing a key role within the club’s maintenance department. This responsibility offers Liam the opportunity to assist with various odd jobs around the stadium such as painting.

“I will be forever grateful for the invaluable guidance and support HITZ offered me,” says Liam. “Without HITZ, I’m certain I wouldn’t be the person I am today. They played a significant role in boosting my confidence by introducing me to a new lease of life I didn’t realise was out there. The fact I am now completing an apprenticeship at a Premiership Rugby club demonstrates HITZ’s impact on myself and other similar individuals. HITZ taught me to remain committed to becoming the best person I can be, which is something that will stay with me for life.”

Now in its tenth year, Liam is one of over 14,000 people that have engaged with the HITZ programme since its inception in 2008. It has achieved some incredible results, with nearly nine out of ten participants completing the HITZ Learning Academy and the same figure reporting an improvement in their personal, social and physical wellbeing. The programme is funded by partners Land Rover, Comic Relief and Wooden Spoon, and the apprenticeship is delivered by SCL Education and Training.

For more information on HITZ, visit https://www.premiershiprugby.com/in-the-community/breakthru/hitz/.

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