Amidst the excitement that is a Tuesday afternoon football session at Wadham Lodge, Walthamstow, our goalkeeper Hugo stopped by to visit JoJo at his day job.As a baby, JoJo, now 21, was placed into care by Haringey Council. Having progressed through the Foundation’s children in care and educational provision, he is now employed by the Club’s charitable arm as a full-time development coach.“I don’t really remember life before going in to care,” he said. “But that doesn’t bother me. I see the people who raised me as my real family - my grandparents, dad and sisters – even if they’re not my biological family. And Rich from Tottenham Hotspur Foundation – Rich is like my big brother. Without Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, who knows where I’d be.”The bond between JoJo and his mentor, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation’s Community Development Manager Richard Allicock, began in 2007. Through the To Care Is To Do programme, all young people in care who are referred to the Foundation are assigned a dedicated mentor to offer guidance and support, working with them to develop individual pathways through to education and employment.“I came in to work one day and this shy, little kid was sitting at my desk,” Richard said of his first meeting with JoJo in 2007. “JoJo had come to the Club on a work experience placement and as we’re both from the local area we hit it off immediately - he had seen me around, knew my friends, knew my family and we had an instant connection. I think he looked up to me for guidance and support because I was from Tottenham too.”JoJo was referred to the Foundation’s looked after children programmes by Haringey Council at a young age, and was keen to explore everything that the Foundation could offer him. He followed an educational pathway with the Foundation through Kicks when he was still in school, studied for his Sports BTEC qualifications at our Football and Education Development Centres, and he then went on to study a Foundation Degree, graduating in August 2014.Today, JoJo is a full-time development coach with the Foundation and Spurs Ladies, and believes that the support he received through the looked after children programmes such as To Care Is To Do, was paramount to his success.“I was really nervous as a kid, but having a mentor like Richard to turn to helped me to explore my feelings and channel my emotions into a positive route. He showed me everything that Tottenham Hotspur Foundation could offer me, and opened up a career in football that I never even knew existed. Rich is more than just a mentor to me, he’s my best friend and my brother.”Upon meeting JoJo, Hugo said: “I am truly inspired by JoJo and his story. The challenges that this young man has faced over the years and how he has come through them all with educational qualifications and a job at the end of it is credit to his attitude and the work of Tottenham Hotspur Foundation.“Stories like this put football into perspective, but it also makes you realise the role that football can play in making a difference in people’s lives, and this has been the case for JoJo.“His love for the game and for Spurs resulted in him coming to us at a young age, and through the Foundation and projects like To Care Is To Do, he has got to where he is today, and it was great to see the positive influence he now has on other young people that he coaches.”
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