Simon’s goal is to give hope

A STUDENT is gearing up for an African adventure of a lifetime – helping to raise awareness of HIV through sport.

Simon Roberts, from Hartlepool, will be jetting out to Burkina Faso later this month to work for a voluntary organisation which aims to improve the lives of African youngsters.

His project is called Coaching for Hope and he will be running football sessions and helping to raise awareness of HIV alongside health professionals.

The keen footballer applied to International Service, an international development charity, for the opportunity through the job centre.

Simon has been in foster care since the age of four and he plans to use his own personal experiences to help bond with disadvantaged youngsters on the continent.

Simon, from the King Oswy area of town, said: “I will be delivering coaching sessions for the young people of Burkina Faso and helping to raise awareness of HIV.

“We will be working closely with schools, colleges, orphanages, street kids and other youth groups as well as doing sessions with the young people.

“I am really looking forward to it. It will be a great adventure.

“This really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I can’t wait.

“I have been in care from a young age and I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with the children over there.”

In order to land the opportunity he had an interview as well as an assessment day and a team building course.

Simon added: “I will be taking photographs and making a video diary while I am out there to record my experiences.

“I am really looking forward to experiencing the different cultures and trying new foods.

“I have played football all my life and to be able to do something like this is fantastic.”

He is currently on a gap-year from his public services studies at Teesside University, in Middlesbrough.

Simon will be leaving for Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa, on Sunday, September 23 .

In total there is a group of 20 people going, and he will be working closely with a team of four others from the Hull area.

The group will be staying in an apartment in the capital, Ouagadougou City.

Simon is also aiming to raise £800 towards the cost of the trip and he has urged businesses and people in town to support him.

The money he raises will also help International Service provide more opportunities like this for other young people.

Simon, who has already approached a number of supermarkets and businesses, said: “I am taking part in fundraising for this organisation because it offers more placements like mine and it gives opportunities to the Burkina Faso community.

“Any donations will help a great deal towards achieving my target of changing lives for the better.”

To sponsor Simon visit