School of Hard Knocks- Edinburgh Cohort 1. A blog!


School of Hard Knocks- Edinburgh Cohort 1. A blog!

Rugby community


Heineken UK LOVE what SOHK do and consequently are supporting the charity to set up a programme in Edinburgh, Scotland (HURRAY!).  Cue- new Programmes manager (me, Rosanna!) and a new Course Facilitator, Calum Gauld.

Here we are with Zeb, our dear Dutch pal who helped us out for a week (Zeb’s in the middle.)


We started our roles on the 1st of March. Met our team at HQ in East London, spent time in Glasgow observing our sister (brother?) team who deliver SOHK work in Glasgow, PitStops, and now, here we are, doing it for ourselves!
We did lots of thinking, consulting, chatting, observing and planning and ultimately decided to start our first course for adult males on Tuesday the 25th of April, at the Murrayfield Wanderers Clubhouse.
We decided that our course would look like this:
  • 8 weeks
  • Every Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Breakfast, lunch, travel expenses and specialist kit included
  • 2 hrs per day fitness and rugby training
  • 2 hrs per day classroom work resulting in SVQ level 4 in Employability Award and Community Achievement Award
  • 1:1 support for all participants – to improve mindset, reach goals and find work
And ultimately- for the group to become a SOHK TEAM – to finish the course with a match against a local rugby team.
Before starting our course we had to find participants to take part.
  • Male
  • Unemployed
  • Over 18
Sounds simple? We spent 4 weeks recruiting from job centres and through other third sector organisations. We were advised by colleagues that you just don’t know until day 1 how many people will turn up. Less than 20 would be too few- more than 30 would probably be too much- how many should we therefore sign up?
We were told that a ‘safe bet’ would be roughly 125 names and details- that out of these 125 about 1/4 would show on the day.
We chatted to literally hundreds of men and did two open information sessions- see below for pictures of Calum and I with Duncan Curran and Mark Swift, 2 participants of the previous SOHK course in Falkirk who came along to share their stories and offer support to the men of Edinburgh who were interested in signing up (BIG THANKS BOYS!). We also managed to sign up a few women- so we better set a date for a course for the ladies soon!


HUGE THANKS to my new best pal Jamie Hogg of RBS who very kindly bought us this bag of training balls to get us started. 
And then it began! After huge amounts of preparation, stress, phone calls, conversations, mini donuts, texts, meetings, arrangements, job centre open sessions, jelly babies, advice…. along came day 1.
Over the course of our two delivery days, 25th and 26th April we have signed up 26 men! We’re absolutely delighted. 
We’ve got our two coaches- Ross ‘Rosco’ Young and Callum Black. Both have worked with SOHK before so are absolutely on board with our objectives and teaching. Both coaches take no prisoners – the men have been pushed to their limit already – but surprisingly only two have had a quick vomit due to the shock to the system! 4 hours of rugby in two days and the boys were exhausted… but happy… you could almost see the endorphins in the air!
Quotes from the boys so far:
“SOHK is a blast!”
“I feel fantastic’.”
“I slept better than I have done in months.”
“I haven’t played rugby since school – but now I want to join my local club – as soon as possible – this has been brilliant.'”
So it seems to be going down well and having the desired effect. We’ve done all the necessary sign-up paperwork, a classroom session on Fears & Barriers, we’ve started on our employability SVQ and, due to a number of ‘ice breakers’, we’ve really started to get to know each other.
Lunch is provided by Caledonian Caterers who’ve been brilliant – roast chicken lunch with all the trimmings went down VERY well on Wednesday.
Here’s to the boys, a huge well done, looking forward to reporting on week 2.
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