This year has been an amazing year for School of Hard Knocks Cymru: We have met amazing beneficiaries in our adult and schools work and helped hundreds of people to overcome barriers and raise their expectations of themselves.

Whilst it is great to think about the participants that we meet throughout our programmes, I have to say the thing that I am most proud of is our staff and the service we provide.

My main challenge as an operational manager at SOHK Cymru has been to manage our growth – we know that there is a need of our courses within the Welsh communities so then we have to work out how to reach as many as possible with limited time and budgets: for me, this always comes back to the quality of team the understanding of roles and responsibilities within our teams.

In 2016 our Schools Team worked with 85 children (a delivery team of two), in 2017 146 (with four coaches/mentors) and 2018 over 240 children with seven regular staff members embedded within our service.

The reason that we can offer such a high-quality programme, to so many for a sustained period of forty- weeks is due to our staff, the mentors that they are and the relationships that they build with the students, parents and our partners.

2018 has been a busy but Brilliant one for SOHK Cymru. We have doubled the number of children we are working with on our schools' programme to over 200 and have run 7 adult programmes across South Wales.

We have had some amazing outcomes and have been lucky enough to play a part in some life-changing stories.

Here are the coach's picks from the past 12 months:


My pick has to be Emma and Daxa, two amazing ladies from our Llandaf course. On day 1 of our course the two ladies turned up early and after making small talk and welcoming them each course assumed another had recruited them from the job centre. When we asked the ladies to put their kit on ready to go onto the muddy field for their first rugby session they looked at us blankly. With Emma being Italian and Daxa from India we assumed there had been a language barrier during recruitment and went ahead to raid our kit supplies to get both ladies rugby ready.

After 90 minutes of an into to rugby from Nelly both ladies came back to the club grinning from ear to ear. It was then they opened up over lunch only to admit they thought they were coming to a course to improve their English and thought they may have been in the wrong place.

Both ladies who hadn’t been long in the country were unemployed, completed the 8-week course, gained employment and did, in fact, improve their English whilst making friends for life!

Congratulations all on a fantastic 2018!