New funding is a superb result for Centre Forward initiative

New funding is a superb result for Centre Forward initiative
FVC's Pauline Barnaby and David Stewart from Falkirk Foundation welcome the new funding.

Centre Forward - a partnership between Forth Valley College and Falkirk Foundation (FF) - has scored £100,000 in funding from the National Lottery Community Fund Young Start Programme.

The Centre Forward – Making Your Next Move initiative - which is designed to help young people (aged between 16-24) with learning disabilities achieve their aspirations, develop existing skills and improve confidence through using sport and physical activity to deliver positive life changes – has been running for the last two years.

This new funding will allow it to keep going for at least another three years and anyone looking to find out more or apply online should visit:

FVC’s Department of Business and Communities – who have extensive expertise in this area – have teamed up with Falkirk Foundation  who will use the ‘Development through Sport’ model to help accelerate learning and development as well as promote self-esteem and confidence.

Combined with certificated SQA units, the project will offer a comprehensive suite of skills that will enable each young person taking part to overcome their individual barriers to progression. All of the classroom based workshops are coupled with practical sport/physical activity sessions to enhance skills-for-work, decision-making, problem-solving and team work, whilst enhancing feelings of belonging, contribution and achievement.

In addition, young people taking part will be enrolled as FVC students and will therefore benefit from the range of student resources available, including the Learning Resource Centre, Student Services and on-campus gym – upon further easing of the current Coronavirus restrictions.

During the first two years, 25 young people with learning disabilities have taken part in Centre Forward, successfully completing 189 qualifications and engaging with the local community through volunteering at more than 10 local events.  The young people have also raised awareness with the local business community through fantastic links developed with the Falkirk Business Bairns and DYW Forth Valley.

Centre Forward student Steven Stone, said: “I started the Centre Forward course in 2019 and from the first day I was made to feel welcome. I was given a Falkirk football tracksuit that looked really smart and made me feel good. The course consisted of a mixture of classroom work and sports activities. I have a learning disability and was given assistance and support with the classroom work.

“It was great to be able to work and learn at The Falkirk Stadium as it had such fantastic facilities. I made lots of friends on the course and this helped with my confidence and self-esteem. I managed to complete two football coaching courses and also completed a first aid course. The thing I enjoyed most about Centre Forward was the work experience I had when working in the kitchen at the new campus within Forth Valley College. Everything involved with Centre Forward was great and I would highly recommend the course to anyone.” 

Fellow Centre Forward student, Liam Nolan, said: “I really enjoyed the short time I was on the course it helped me gain confidence with people and independent travel and I enjoyed telling my friends about my athletics and how training helps me keep fit. I really missed the course and students and staff when it stopped due to Covid-19.”

Another student, Kirsty McCallum, added: “The course helped me to build up my confidence, team building and communication skills. I also enjoyed volunteering at sporting events in Grangemouth.”

The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland Director, Neil Ritch, said:  “Young Start funding helps to supporting young people to build confidence, develop new skills and realise their own potential. Each project awarded today has made an incredible impact in the lives of the young people they support.  

“I’m delighted that Young Start is working with projects like Forth Valley College and Falkirk Foundation's Centre Forward Programme, which offer young people the chance to develop life skills and gain qualifications.”

David Stewart, Community Manager at Falkirk Foundation, said: “Falkirk Foundation is delighted to continue working with Forth Valley College and The National Lottery Community Fund – Young Start Programme on this extremely worthwhile initiative. 

“As a charity we aim to help our community succeed and live happier, healthier lives and use the power of football, other sports, professional role-models and a modern sports stadium as catalysts to create life changing opportunities for people of all ages by removing barriers, promoting participation, improving health and enhancing learning experiences for everyone.

“We believe that sport can inspire people to make changes to their own lives, to raise aspirations and ambitions and to open their minds to new possibilities. We look forward to working with more young people with learning disabilities and to creating a mutually beneficial learning environment where participants and employers can educate each other on the particular barriers they face and strengths they possess, in order to improve future opportunities.”

Jacqueline McArthur, Director of Curriculum for FVC’s Department of Business and Communities, said: “The ‘Centre Forward – Making Your Next Move’ initiative has been a great success over the last two years and this excellent new funding support from the National Lottery Community Fund Young Start Programme will make a real difference in the lives of young people with learning difficulties disabilities.

“I am very proud of my colleagues who have worked very hard on developing the course and sourcing the funding in partnership with the Falkirk Foundation, and am confident that working together, the results of the project will go from strength to strength

“We can’t thank the National Lottery Community Fund Young Start Programme enough, for their generous donation and we will make sure the money is put to good use in helping to transform the lives of young people in the Falkirk area.”

Anyone looking to find out more or apply online should visit: