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Casual Community Engagement Officer Recognised With Community Gateway Award

16 September 2021

Preston North End Community and Education Trust casual staff member John has been recognised by the Community Gateway Association with its annual Community Heroes awards.

John has won the Unsung Hero Award, which recognises those who go above and beyond to support community causes, for his tireless work and contribution to community projects through Preston North End Community and Education Trust.

John first accessed PNECET provision as a service user of Guild Lodge, in Goosnargh, where our partnership with the medium secure mental health unit began in 2019 to deliver weekly football and multi-skills sessions.

Through the Guild Lodge partnership, John had the opportunity to gain qualifications with PNECET through our weekly sessions at the site.

John has since progressed after being discharged from Guild Lodge, becoming a volunteer and now a casual member of staff, working across PNECET provision.

First supporting our Walking Football programmes, John has also worked on our Holiday Activities and Food programme and Soccer School programmes in the summer, and also delivered PL Kicks sessions, plus much more.


Despite his plentiful and valuable work in the community, receiving an award still came as a surprise to John, who said gaining recognition provided him with a great feeling.

“It felt unreal. I wasn’t expecting it at all but I’m glad I got it with all the hard work I’ve done. I was made up I’ve got it, I was a bit surprised. It was good, a good ceremony and a nice award so I’m pleased.”

John’s work on the Holiday Activites and Food programme saw him deliver an inspiring life in prison workshop to young people.

He continued: “HAF was running over August, I was working almost every day with long hours. It was good fun, hard work sometimes but good fun. I did a talk about life in prison with the participants, they enjoyed that, and I was able to answer the participants’ questions.”

John’s journey is now set to see him return to Guild Lodge in a staffing capacity, delivering the same weekly session with PNECET that he once accessed as a service user.

He said that working for PNECET has been ‘all positive’ for him and is allowing him to fulfil his aim of giving back to the community.

“When I first started [with PNECET], I was just doing walking football at Guild Lodge. Now I’m doing Andy’s Man Club, I’m doing Kicks sessions, Walking Football, and I’m going back into Guild Lodge for the first time, which will be a lot of fun.

“When I was at Guild Lodge, Tom Drake [PNECET CEO] came down and introduced himself, gave me some training and offered me a job. Now I’m a member of staff, I’m going back into Guild to help what Tom started.

“It’s all been positive. I’ve been giving back to the community, that’s what I wanted to do. I’ve been helping other people get out of trouble, giving talks to young people and getting them off the wrong path and getting them onto the right path. I’m just enjoying my job.”

PNECET Community Engagement Officer Alistair White added: “We are delighted that John has won the Community Gateway Association’s Unsung Hero award and has been recognised for his unwavering commitment to supporting community causes in Preston.

“John has progressed from accessing our football session as a service user of Guild Lodge, to now being an invaluable member of our casual workforce, supporting a countless number of our projects across our Community Engagement and Health and Wellbeing provision.

“We’re grateful to have John as a part of our team, commend him for all of his hard work and congratulate him on his thoroughly deserved award win!”

For more information about Community initiatives, please contact or call 01772 693309.

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