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Penny and Zulaikha


Wycombe Wanderers Sports and Education Trust (WWSET), along with Wycombe Wanderers Football Club, announced on 27th April 2021 that we were one of 65 EFL clubs that had signed up for the government’s Kickstart scheme, providing hundreds of jobs for young people.

We are able to offer six-month work placement jobs roles to young people in the local community aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit – with the aim to give young people the opportunity to build their skills in the workplace and to gain experience to improve their chances of finding long-term work.

Under the scheme, the EFL Trust, the charitable arm of the EFL, will be acting as a gateway provider, bringing together a network of football clubs, community organisations and other partners, to provide a wealth of opportunities across the country for the out-of-work youngsters.

In April 2021, WWSET announced that Penny McLain-Smith had become the first team member to join us under this new scheme when she joined as an Education Assistant.  

Penny’s role sees her out in the community, working with children in local schools, delivering our Education and Employability curriculum. 

“The work environment is like nothing I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with in the past”, Penny says with a huge grin. “Although a fun environment to work in, you can see how hard working everyone is. I love making a difference, and it’s a real thrill to hear the feedback from teachers, parents and the kids themselves about how I am doing, and how I am able to help in any way I can.” 

It can be a real challenge to hear what some of the kids have been through and what they are dealing with, but being able to make them giggle, or seeing them smile, or hearing that they have opened up to someone for the first time makes all the hard work and the struggles worthwhile.” 

Penny joined us from her previous role as a lifeguard, so having a caring and nurturing personality obviously comes naturally to her, and is something that she has put to good use in the past. 

When we asked her what she doesn’t like about her role, Penny smirked and said, “I don’t like that I’m only part-time, and I really hope I can earn a full-time role at WWSET.” 

And just a couple of weeks later in May 2021, we announced the appointment of Zulaikha Bi as an Office Administrator, also under the Kickstart Scheme. 

Zulaikha wanted to get into the hustle and bustle of a lively office but admits that it has been a struggle to find work in this competitive environment during the coronavirus lockdown, particularly when you have no previous experience doing the role. Her previous work was in childcare, where she worked at a nursery as a member of their temporary staff. 

“I am very grateful for this opportunity,” Zulaikha said after her appointment at WWSET. “I have been really struggling to get into office administration before the pandemic and after it just made things more difficult. Especially as employees were being asked to work from home, and so my future career goals just seemed to be being pushed further and further away.”

“I have gained confidence on basic admin duties such as answering the telephone in a polite manner replying professionally to emails, and the time management skills to take on general tasks set by my manager. I have learnt to compile and issue agendas and take minutes, something I am able to take upon any future office admin job. I feel that this would help me to move upwards in an office job and in the future as I work towards achieving my goal of becoming a secretary. These small tasks will build me into my future job role.” 

Zulaikha has made a great start to her career at WWSET and has grown in confidence during her time with us. 

WWSET Head of Education Mark Heath said: “We are proud to be able to offer employment to young people in the community and help those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The club has earned a reputation as one that is proactive in the face of this tough time, and it is great to be able to build on this by taking part in the Kickstart scheme.” He continued, “both Penny and Zulaikha have done really well since joining us, and we have been impressed with their attitudes and proactivity.”  

To learn more about the Kickstart Scheme, you can visit their website here