10 Years of the Trust: Michael Howard
As part of our ’10 Years of the Community Trust’ campaign, which is celebrating the successes our official charity has achieved over the years, we are sharing stories and interviews from the heart of our local communities.
Here, we look at the story of former Swans defender Michael Howard who returned to the club that gave him his break in senior football to work in the Community Trust’s employability project in 2014.
After signing for the Swans as an 18-year-old back in 1998, Howard went on to make more than 250 appearances during his six-year stint at the club.
The left-back played a key role in helping the Swans secure the Division Three title in 2000 and also featured in the famous 4-2 victory over Hull City in 2003 which preserved the Swans’ professional status.
Howard went on to play for Morecambe and Oxford United before returning to Wales to play for a few Welsh clubs including Llanelli Town.
After hanging up his boots following a stress fracture in his back, Howard returned to education to achieve the qualifications needed to deliver employability support to adults.
“I had a job doing a similar employability project in Swansea, so when I saw the Community Trust job advertised I applied for it,” Howard said.
“There was a big gap in between playing football and working for the Community Trust.
“It was difficult to make the transition from playing football for almost 20 years and not being in education to going back to college to get the qualifications I needed.
“I didn’t really achieve any qualifications when I was playing football so I did them all after I had retired from football.
“Once I got into a routine of doing courses it got easier and I seemed to do more and more each year.”
Howard is now the Community Trust’s employability co-ordinator, a role which has seen him get many people back into employment.
“The trust’s employability project first started when the trust won a tender for a contract to work with unemployed people,” he added.
“We then turned it into a sector-specific project, where we try to get people back into work in the customer service and construction areas as they were the two areas where the most job opportunities were in Swansea.
“We have teamed up with a couple of companies such as Mi-Space and Virgin Media, and they offer work experience and hopefully job opportunities at the end of that for our participants.”
In the 2017-18 season alone, participants in the Community Trust’s Sign Up To Success and Premier League Works projects gained 214 new qualifications.
“We deliver employability support, team-building and confidence-building exercises and help participants achieve the sector-specific qualifications they need in order to secure employment,” Howard explained.
“Many of our participants have achieved their CSCS cards through the employability project which means they have been able to work on construction sites.”
Having served the Swans well as a player, Howard has found working for the Community Trust very rewarding.
“It has been great for me to see so many people gaining employment through the work the Community Trust does,” he said.
“I have been able to build relationships with some of the people we have helped to get employment. It’s nice when you see some of the participants getting some good job outcomes and we have been quite successful in terms of job outcomes.
“The Community Trust is great for giving people a platform. Everyone has got good skills and qualities in different areas so it is just about people making the most of those qualities.”
Look out for more success stories and interviews in the run-up to the Community Trust’s 10th Anniversary in November.