Ashley was more than happy to give up his time and join in with the youngsters for a kick-about during the international break, when he demonstrated skills for the participants and answered questions on his career in top flight football. The United star was impressed with what he saw at the project,
“It’s good to come down and see the work the Club is doing in the community," he said. “It’s nice to see the kids who are giving up their time each week volunteering. It’s a fantastic set-up, I wish it was something that I had when I was younger and I think it's great that the volunteers help the younger ones.”
Street Reds is a community cohesion scheme run for 8-18 year-olds at eight different venues across the city. The projects run at times when young people are in need of diversionary activities.
Dawn Bracegirdle, community cohesion manager for the Foundation said, “It’s really key that there is something constructive for young people to do. It’s organised, it’s fun and it’s safe and it’s a great opportunity for young people to come together and get active. It also means they are not doing other things in their communities that maybe they shouldn’t be.
“It’s such an inspiring thing for young people to see their heroes right here, on their doorsteps; we are almost in the shadow of the stadium here at Ordsall and to see someone like Ashley Young and have him meet them and interact with them is so, so, powerful.”
Volunteering is a big part of Street Reds, with 20 volunteers giving around 100 hours across Greater Manchester every week. After attending for a period of time, youngsters are encouraged to assist in running the sessions, which leads to increased confidence and a pathway to gaining coaching qualifications and access to other unique opportunities offered through Manchester United Foundation.
Chris Noble, head coach at Salford explained,“We have three young lads who have volunteered for a while now and two of them have just been made ball boys at Old Trafford. It gives them opportunities, these are just normal kids who grew up on the Ordsall Estate so it inspires other kids, it gives them something tangible to think, ‘hang on, if he can do that why can’t I?’ "
Chris continued, "I’ve lived on Ordsall Estate for a long time. When we were growing up it was really bad, there was violence and shootings; you couldn’t play anywhere. It has changed a lot now; I think projects like Street Reds and have had a big impact on that.”
Find out more about Street Reds.