"I used to just stay in my bedroom and play on my PS3 all the time,’ Jerome says.

“Mum called the Mencap Direct helpline and I joined the Employ Me scheme in May 2016. They talked to me about what I would like to do.”

Angela from Mencap’s Employ Me team explains: “Jerome had a great passion for football and wanted to do anything football related. His dream was to help coach children with football."

"I've always liked football," Jerome says. "Since I was little, literally, since I was 6 or 7. I've always been passionate. My favourite team is Liverpool. It's one of the top 5 teams.

“We've always had good players with good qualities - the legends like Gerrard, Suarez and Torres. Now my favourites are Coutinho and Sturridge.

My dream job was to be a professional footballer or a manager or coach. I used to play before for 2 years. In my last tournament we came second. Then I heard about coaching. There's such a small chance you'll turn pro, and I'm getting older, so coaching is a good way to stay involved."

"Once we find out what people want to do we search for what may be possible." says Angela. "We looked for a traineeship so he could get some experience on his CV and see if it was what he really wanted to do."

 

"I'd heard that Tottenham Hotspur Football Club offered traineeships with the possibility of going on to an apprenticeship. It requires literacy and numeracy, retail and admin, so there are lots of possibilities to match people's skills."

"I met with the traineeship leader at Tottenham Hotspur and told them football is Jerome's dream. He'd like to be a coach. We supported him to apply for a children's football coach traineeship. They said he would be accepted on a 12-week traineeship if he'd also brush up on his English and maths."

"They agreed to pay his fares, provide lunch, and an official Tottenham Hotspur tracksuit. As we left the meeting at White Hart Lane Jerome turned to me and said "Woooo, I'm buzzing'."

"I felt ecstatic," Jerome remembers. "Overwhelmed as well."

Jerome began his traineeship in July 2016 working three days a week. Employ Me gave him with one-to-one support to help with things such as learning how to get to the venue and travelling independently.

Jerome's football skills

 

After his English and maths sessions he joins a Tottenham Hotspurs coach to help give instructions to teenagers aged 14-15.

"I'm seeing all my friends and working beside the coaches," he says. "I train the teenagers, do exercises with them, tell them to communicate with each other, set up the nets, and get the balls. I help with anything the head coach needs me to do."

He says that by working with the coaches he's learned to, "always be patient, be friendly, have good body language and eye contact, be sensible and independent, and just be wary of some situations, like don't leave your stuff about."

"He also learns about nutrition and being healthy," Angela explains. "Mum is over the moon. I can’t wait till Monday each week.”

Jerome says that when he tells people that he works at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, "They just get happy. They get a buzzy feeling, like 'Oh my God. Wow!’"

"He's doing really great." Angela says. "Tottenham pick out some of the better trainees and offer them part time jobs. He was soon offered paid work at the stadium as a match day worker, helping out with tickets, and tidying up. He's been on tours of the stadium and lots of other extras. There is also the possibility of an apprenticeship as a football coach."

Jerome, Here I Am

 

"I can't express what a different person he has become." She says. "He was a shy young man. His confidence is amazing now. He's made so many friends. He comes into help us at Job Club and helps his peers in a workshop environment."

"Usually we do quizzes, acting, presentations, and learn about rights and the law." Jerome says. "I have made lots of new friends and some of us meet weekly to go to the pictures, McDonald's or the noodle bar."

Jerome says: "It's nice to socialise with friends and family. If opportunities come up just get out and go do it. It changed my life!

“Mencap has helped me with my depression and confidence. Helping me to get a placement with football coaching is my dream. I just hope I get to be a full time coach. Maybe I'll have a family one day! Thank you Mencap."

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