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Ulster University, in partnership with Manchester United Foundation, welcomed former Manchester United defender Wes Brown to the Magee campus to celebrate four years of the University and Manchester United Foundation’s Schools Outreach programme.

The dedicated educational and community outreach programme has engaged with 10 schools from the Foyle Learning Community since it was launched in 2018. Led by Ulster University and supported by Manchester United Foundation, over 500 pupils from across Derry-Londonderry have engaged in a range of initiatives designed to motivate and inspire the next generation, widen access and create pathways to Ulster University.  Each programme within the educational outreach portfolio features a different objective and delivery mood, including entrepreneurship, advocacy, health, wellbeing, sport, career choices, pathways to HE/FE and STEM.

Professor Malachy Ó Neill, Director of Regional Engagement at Ulster University commented:

"We were delighted to welcome footballing legend Wes Brown to Magee to meet the young people who have been part of Ulster University and Manchester United Foundation’s Schools Outreach programme. "

"At Ulster University, we pride ourselves on our strong links with local schools and strive to create a welcoming environment on our campus for activities that benefit the local community.

As we enter the fourth year of the outreach programme, I want to recognise the commitment of the children in the Foyle Learning Community who have given their all to the programme and have achieved great success on and off the pitch. Together with Manchester United Foundation and the Foyle Learning Community we will continue to inspire students by fostering skills and self-belief that they will carry with them throughout their education and future careers."

During his visit to the Magee campus, Wes Brown – who represented United between 1998-2011 during an extremely successful period for the club - was the guest speaker for the ‘In Conversation’ aspect of the celebration event. He discussed in detail his experience of rising through the club’s youth system and the Manchester United Foundation partnership which includes the ‘United…The Business’ project, providing young people with an insight into what it takes for Manchester United to be successful on and off the pitch.

Wes commented:

"Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone at Ulster University for making me feel so welcome. It’s been great to see that the work of the Foundation is now reaching beyond Greater Manchester through this partnership, giving youngsters out here some incredible opportunities. The Foundation is brilliant at engaging with young people and getting the best out of them, so I’m sure there will be plenty of students that will feel the benefits of this partnership over the coming years."

"Manchester United has a long association with Northern Ireland, with many of the club’s great players coming from this part of the world and a loyal supporter base too. I’m proud to see the Foundation continuing to build on that with this partnership."

John Shiels MBE, Chief Executive of Manchester United Foundation, said:

"It has been fantastic to be here at the Magee Campus to celebrate our partnership with Ulster University. Since starting our work together in 2018 we have collaborated closely with the university and established relationships with schools in the Foyle Learning Community. There have been some magical interactions with the city’s young people, who have all continued to shine despite the challenges of the past few years. The character of the children and young people of Derry-Londonderry is something the city should be commended for."

"There are lots of exciting plans taking shape which will ensure that the partnership continues to grow over the next few years, allowing us to provide even greater opportunity and experiences for the children and young people involved."

Katrina Crilly, Principal of Oakgrove commented:

"We have been working with Ulster University and the Manchester United Foundation over the last number of years. Each year the partnership has grown in terms of the number of pupils who have had the opportunity to get involved.

For these students it has been an excellent opportunity for them to develop a range of skills. While qualifications continue to be important to our students in terms of their career, it is becoming increasingly obvious that pupils need more than that. Skills such as leadership,  teamwork, communication and problem solving are vital for the holistic development of our students, which they need to be successful in the world of work.

In this respect, the partnership has challenged and empowered our students to develop these skills in a unique, engaging and interactive manner, that was never available to them before."

"The partnership has given our students experiences that they will never forget, the activities, the people they have met and the relationships they have formed with the amazing staff, who have gone out of their way to make sure this has been a rewarding experience for our students.

We are very grateful as a school community to have participated in this partnership and we know that our students will carry both the learning and the memories with them through life."

Get more information on the Ulster University and Manchester United Foundation Schools’ Outreach programme