Northampton teenager named a HITZ hero by Premiership Rugby for her efforts during lockdown
'We are seeing a confident, chatty, and positive student blossom - it is an absolute pleasure to witness'
Tia Roberts from Northampton Saints Foundation’s HITZ programme has been named a HITZ Hero 2021 by Premiership Rugby, in recognition of her achievements despite the challenges of lockdown.
HITZ is Premiership Rugby’s flagship education and employability programme, working with more than 2,000 14-23 year-olds across England every year. The aim of HITZ is to help young people classified as NEET (not in education, employment or training) turn their lives around through gaining qualifications and developing their personal, employability and life skills.
The awards, which are supported by former England international Ugo Monye, celebrate young people across the country excelling over the last 12 months despite the pandemic. Tia is one of six outstanding young individuals who have been named a HITZ Hero this year.
The emotional impact of a change in family circumstances meant 17-year-old Tia struggled at school where she also experienced bullying and periods of exclusion. After leaving school with no GCSEs, Tia recognised that she needed to find a way to advance in life. After hearing about HITZ from careers service Prospects, Tia joined the programme with Northampton Saints Foundation in September 2020 in the hope that it would help to build her confidence and widen her skillset.
Despite being nervous, Tia put her worries aside and immersed herself in the programme. Since her first week, Tia has gone from strength to strength, especially academically. After successfully completing her GCSE Maths and English mock exams in November 2020 and March 2021, Tia is now on course to hopefully achieve a successful outcome in these subjects alongside completing her level 1 BTEC Sports course.
With the Government reporting unemployment for young people increasing by 11% since the start of the pandemic, and that by the end of last year there were an estimated 800,000 16-24 year olds in the UK classified as NEET, Premiership Rugby’s commitment to supporting and developing individuals like this has only become more steadfast.
Jordan Yeates, from Northampton Saints Foundation, and Craig Phillips, from SCL Education, nominated Tia for a HITZ Hero award in recognition of the barriers she has overcome and the progress she has made. He, said:
“Opening up and trusting people was going to be challenging for Tia having experienced turbulent previous years, yet we are beginning to see a confident, chatty, and positive student blossom. It is an absolute pleasure to witness. She gets stuck into every activity, whether it’s the sports sessions, online lessons or the work experience enrichment.”
“She is a zero excuses individual who has grown in confidence and resilience. She has really taken the worries of lockdown in her stride and got stuck into unlocking her own potential.
"We have no doubt that when her time at Northampton Saints Foundation comes to an end, Tia will be on a pathway to achieving her dreams and aspirations, heading towards a role in her chosen career in retail. Her evolution has been truly inspirational to see.”