The not for profit organisation has always been strong on recruiting and developing its own workforce from within the community. In 2008, it began employing school leavers in its Partnership Coach programme, which provides 18 year olds with 12 months training and work experience.

Director Jill Eaton said: "We wanted to expand our services and offer the young people of Stevenage a chance to kick-start a career in sport and active leisure".

In 2011, the company went one step further – hiring three 16-24yr olds in a unique apprenticeship programme developed by SkillsActive. Jill says the programme, which provided 5000 young unemployed people within six months training was a turning point for the company.

"This initiative opened our eyes to the possibility of transforming our own programme into an Apprenticeship".

The company joined SkillsActive's network, which brings small and medium size employers together so they can access funding opportunities and specific training that would otherwise be out of their reach.

Thanks to the initiative, Stevenage Sporting Futures Team received funded training that would otherwise be out of their reach.

The young people follow Apprenticeship frameworks designed by SkillsActive in consultation with employers. They gain nationally recognised qualifications such as an NVQ in Activity Leadership and various NGB Coaching Awards which are all delivered by the company's own training provider: Sporting Futures Training.

Jill says Apprenticeships have had a "massive impact" on the business – and the wider community.

"Many schools and community clubs have approached us wanting to retain the apprentice working with them for a second year are keen to develop and create a pathway into employment for them such as teaching sports teaching assistants or into further sporting careers in the sport and active leisure sector."

"Our new workforce has not only enabled more young people to participate in activities, they have provided them with positive role models in their own community. This is of immense value in a community renowned for low aspiration amongst youth."