CASH seized from criminals is to be awarded to a football club’s charitable arm to create life changing opportunities for disadvantaged young people.
The Scottish Government is awarding £175,000 of CashBack for Communities funding to the Celtic FC Foundation, the charitable arm of the Glasgow giants.
The foundation will use the money to introduce the Gateway to Employment project, which is aimed at young people aged 18 to 24 and focuses on offenders and those at risk of reoffending.
Over the next three years, the Celtic FC Foundation will engage with more than 100 young people in areas of Glasgow with the highest rates of crime and anti-social behaviour to support them in developing new skills through volunteering, training or employment opportunities.
Tony Hamilton, chief executive of the foundation, said: “Funding and support from CashBack allows us to work with young people, in one of our key geographical areas in Glasgow, who have specific employment needs, which we can help address.
“This project has clear outcomes and targets and there are a whole series of initiatives towards helping our target group get back to full employment.
“At Celtic FC Foundation we have a specific interest in health, equality, learning and poverty and this project, throughout its life, will cover all four key areas for young people who have offended and/or are at the risk of reoffending. Helping them to have the best possible chance of finding meaningful and worthwhile employment has a benefit for all in the community.
“We are grateful for the support of CashBack and we intend to make this programme an exemplar of what we do and what we can do at Celtic FC Foundation in those communities who need an opportunity.”
The scheme is being delivered in partnership with Apex Scotland, a specialist organisation which has 25 years’ experience in supporting ex-offenders and young people at risk.
It is the latest award from the third phase of Cashback funding, which so far has seen £74 million given to projects and initiatives across Scotland since 2007.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill made the announcement while meeting Mr Hamilton and Apex chief executive Alan Staff at Celtic FC’s training ground in Lennoxtown.
Mr MacAskill said: “While this is a momentous year for Scottish sport, its legacy will last well beyond 2014.
“I am therefore delighted to announce further CashBack for Communities funding which, as we can see from other projects, is providing real opportunities to help young people realise their potential.
“What is most gratifying is that this cash has been seized from the very criminals who seek to exploit these young people and their communities and trap them in a cycle of misery.
“I commend the work of Celtic FC Foundation and all people and organisations involved in this project and hope this project paves the way for sporting and other stars of the future.”
Cashback for Communities takes money from criminals and reinvests it in schemes and projects to benefit communities to allow them to flourish.