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Tia overcomes barriers of lockdown to be announced a Premiership Rugby HITZ Hero 2021

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 to 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.

Jordan Yeates from Northampton Saints Foundation and Craig Phillips from SCL Education Group nominated Tia for a HITZ Hero award in recognition of the barriers she has overcome, and the progress she has made.

Yeates 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.

“Her evolution has been truly inspirational to see.”

Jordan Yeates, Northampton Saints Foundation

“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.”

Tia Roberts – HITZ Hero 2021

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 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.

“Tia should be extremely proud of what she has achieved. She demonstrated a real commitment and resilience to not letting lockdown derail her aspirations.”

Wayne Morris, Premiership Rugby

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 to 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.

Wayne Morris, Community and Corporate Social Responsibility Director at Premiership Rugby, said: “The impact of the pandemic on young people is not to be underestimated. We worked hard with our partner clubs, including Northampton Saints, to ensure that we continued to provide vital support during this extremely stressful and worrying time.

“Tia is a shining example of how determination, the right support and opportunity go a long way to changing lives for the better.”

Tia Roberts is a HITZ Hero for 2021