Racing has so much potential to ignite the interest and ambition of young people from all walks of life and, as Mark Turner from Flying Futures explains, The Take The Reins Programme is reaping rewards for its participants and the sport.
Hi I’m Mark Turner, Founder and Executive Director of Flying Futures, a not-for-profit community interest company. Flying Futures is a founding partner of Take The Reins (TTR), an emerging initiative for young people within the racing industry. Flying Futures works as part of a ‘Sport for Development’ network, headed by our charity partner Active Communities Network (ACN).
Our work started back in 2014 when ACN CEO Gary Stannet was invited to a community engagement day facilitated by British Horseracing Authority. At this time we had undertaken some light touch work introducing young people to trainers, jockeys and racecourses. Working alongside the Racing Together initiative, we soon realised there was a disconnect between young people and the industry, in particular young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Gary invited Flying Futures to join forces in early 2015 with a view to extending the work to Yorkshire.
I picked up discussions with trainer Richard Fahey and Amie Canham, and it soon became apparent that our worked resonated, with us sharing an ethos and vision for TTR.
Fast forward three years, and those initial conversations in 2014 were a catalyst for change, and today TTR has organically grown into a mature partnership and real programme of work. This scheme has been a testament to the partners involved, with no funding but a stack of goodwill to make a difference to young people’s lives.
TTR today is gaining more traction in the industry. To date the collective programme has reached:
– Over 400 young people
– Delivered over 60 employability qualifications
– Facilitated over 50 work experience and taster opportunities
– Referred three young people into the Northern Racing College.
Our ambassadors – all current or former jockeys – add a unique and personal touch. We are so grateful to Hayley Turner, David Crosse, Adam McNamara and more recently, Sammy Jo Bell.
TTR is still emerging as a partnership and we are keen to step up our efforts to make a real difference to the young people we work with, and the communities we serve. We are excited about the possibilities that racing offers young people for a career in racing – a sport that needs to attract new staff – and a new strategic plan is being developed to drive forward TTR.