A FOOTBALL project which helps people re-adapt to life in the borough was kick-started with a special launch.
Bury Community Football League, which has been running since April, helps armed forces veterans, ex-offenders and unemployed or vulnerable individuals reintegrate into the community.
The players, who meet at Radcliffe Borough FC, can also attend CV and employability classes at the Attic Project, a community hub based in Russell Street, Bury.
Attic Project reopened last year after a £100,000 makeover and is a base for charities and a probation office supervision centre.
Dawn Turnbull, volunteer treasurer at the project, said: “The community football league has been really beneficial so far and there are between 20 and 30 people taking part on a regular basis.
“It is about building people up again through football, not just through gaining important job skills such as motivation and teamwork but also by socialising.
“Once the league is more established, we are looking at setting up a women’s league.”
Bury’s Armed Forces Community Covenant won the league a £9,290 grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund in partnership with Great Places Housing Group.
Kits were sponsored by JobOppo, a company which provides recruitment opportunities for ex-military personnel.
Cllr James Frith, chairman of the borough’s community covenant, said: “The league is exciting, enthusiastic and collaborative; bringing people from across the borough together with veterans to enjoy the nation’s most-loved sport.
“One challenge facing any former service person is their re-integration socially and culturally back into civic life.
“Football offers not just the benefits of exercise but it is a community sport, one that thrives on physical kindred spirits, good-hearted banter and competition.”
Dave Bridge, who worked as a chef in the Royal Navy between 1977 and 1996, was homeless earlier this year but got a job as a chef at Wyldes pub in Bury after joining the initiative.
The 53-year-old said: “It helps you get back into the community having come off the streets, and gives you the confidence to get back into work.
“Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong, I lost my job and I was running out of money, so I ended up being homeless for about six weeks.”
Mr Bridge now has a house in Prestwich and has gained a qualification in volunteering so he can deliver some of the workshops himself.
Another person helped by the scheme is William Adarawah, aged 38, who has found a job as a care assistant at Burrswood House nursing home, off Walmersley Road.
Mr Adarawah said: “The people here are like my family now. They have helped me to get back into work and it is a really useful resource.”
Call 07557 513295 for more information about the project.