Sports Traider is a charity that exists to give young people employment and sports participation opportunities. In doing so they gain confidence, self-esteem, retail skills and improve mental and physical health.
It is Britain’s first chain of charity sports shops and a branch has recently opened its doors at the Pyramids Shopping Centre, Birkenhead.
The shops are managed by paid staff who are assisted by young volunteers to gain confidence, self-esteem and retail skills – in some cases, giving them a chance to move away from criminal exploitation.
Organised criminal groups prey on young and vulnerable people to do their dirty work, whether that’s through County Lines drug dealing or other criminal activity – this programme is one of many Project Medusa is supporting, to help young people who many be facing some challenges in their lives to, be given an opportunity.
Inside the shops, shoppers can find new, branded sportswear from the likes of Kickers, Ellesse and Regatta, all priced at £5 or less. Profits from sales go back into the local community to support local sports and participation projects community projects.
Lance Haggith, founder of Sports Traider and former unsung hero at the BBC Sports Personality Awards, said, “We are delighted to be working with Merseyside Police to open two brand new Sports Traider shops in Merseyside.
“We will be working to provide sports participation and employment opportunities to young people in the communities of Bootle and Birkenhead and we would like to thank everyone for the support we have received already.”
birkenhead.news spoke to Richard Jones, who is a senior investigating officer on Project Medusa, which is the Merseyside police initiative set up to tackle county lines.
He explained the involvement of Merseyside Police with Sports Traider. “It’s about creating opportunities for young, vulnerable people who have been exploited through county lines or who are on the cusp of being criminally exploited.
“We have referral pathways with partners where we look to move them away from county lines exploitation and move them away from exploitation and try to get them on projects, such as this one where they get work experience.”
‘Emma’ was in an abusive relationship and now works at the Birkenhead store as a volunteer. She told us, “My mum saw that Sports Traider was looking for volunteers and I thought that’d be great for me. I needed to build my confidence back up after being in an abusive relationship.”
Having never worked in retail before, ‘Emma’ hopes that the experience she gains from volunteering will help her to pursue a new career. “I would have really struggled to get back to work and Sports Traider has really helped. My confidence and mental health wasn’t very good, but working here with the support I’ve had has helped a lot.”
Image: Billie, Sports Traider manager at The Pyramids store and Richard Jones of Merseyside Police