Team of the Year
This category is open to teams of employees working within any sector and within any size of business.
The team could form a department with a business or, within smaller organisations, perhaps the entire workforce could be classed as the team.
The team will have proven success in encouraging one another’s strengths and leveraging these to achieve results.
Ten Count Boxing Gym
Team of the Year nominee
Ten Count aims to use exercise and boxing to improve the self-esteem, confidence and health of children and adults.
It organises free or subsidised family day trips and offers nutritional and wellbeing advice alongside fun fitness classes.
There is a youth group, rehab sessions for the elderly and the owners have plans for a soft play area, a music studio, a warm room for pensioners and a library area for people to study.
Ten Count Boxing Gym has been nominated in the Business in the Community category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards by Laura Bailey who runs a youth group from the gym. She has also nominated the seven members of staff in the Team of the Year category.
She said: “The success of the gym at serving its community rests on the fantastic team who work tirelessly both behind the scenes and within the gym to create an inclusive and vibrant environment where children, teens and adults come and thrive.
“Some of the young amateur boxers are now becoming increasingly involved in other gym projects as volunteers and sessional staff, building on the strength that lies within such as Bradley who young people from the youth group actively recruited to join their activities.
“Max has a busy schedule of coaching young people during the daytime who come from specialist education providers and youth offending team referrals and also within schools across the city as a diversionary extracurricular activity.
“Lee selflessly volunteers his time and specialises in teaching children and young people with a broad range of disabilitie, in his BoxSEN classes which see 16 children enjoy adapted boxing sessions weekly to meet their abilities and enhance their physical and emotional wellbeing.
“Ultimately Ten Count’s team comprises of individuals all with a shared goal of supporting people’s wellbeing and development and to be a part of that is so rewarding and motivational.”
Max Maxwell said: “When people think of gyms they think it’s for a particular type of person but it isn’t. I try to make people feel comfortable and to take away any barriers.
“We’re affordable for everyone and I want to bring in children’s soft play for just £1 or £2 so that it’s easier for parents to exercise.”
Team of the Year entrant
A football coaching company that began as a one-man-band in 2017 has grown to have 16 employees, including a current professional footballer.
PCT Coaching was set up by former Army mechanic Martyn Irvine in 2017 after an aspiring player asked him to help with training ahead of trials with football clubs.
The business now has Stoke-on-Trent’s largest indoor, private training facility at its base in Longton.
Its team of 16 coaches, including a current Oldham Athletic player, deliver tailored sessions to more than 200 children each week. PCT is also home to six junior football teams.
“If you’d told me my career would be coaching football I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Martyn, who served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers for 12 years.
“I began by helping one person, coaching them in a park, and then more and more people asked me to help them.
“We support and love every single person that comes through the doors. Most of them are children. They’re not footballers, they’re young people who want to be footballers. We want to help them to be young people who can go out into society and be the best they can be.”
After starting off using a park for training, in 2021 PCT moved into part of the former ceramic factory at Sylvan Works in Longton so that training could continue regardless of the weather.
Martyn’s team of coaches support individuals in developing their social, physical, technical and psychological traits within the world of football.
They often work with children who have been turned down by football teams. So far 62 children have been placed into football teams after being told they weren’t good enough elsewhere and are now thriving under the guidance of the team of coaching experts at PCT.
Martyn added: “We just want to help as many people as we can. The biggest thing for us is that we’ve got experts who have played and coached at a high level or who are still involved in playing football professionally.”
PCT Coaching has entered the Small Business of the Year and Team of the Year categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.
Affordable Food Stoke
Team of the Year entrant
Affordable Food Stoke used surplus food to provide the equivalent of 157,687 meals in Stoke-on-Trent last year – but it can only continue this work because of its team of 31 volunteers.
Set up in 2016 by Staffordshire University alumni Duane Barrett and wife Nikki Barrett, the registered charity works to reduce food waste and support communities through initiatives including emergency food parcels and a ‘free food section’ where people take what they need.
Just 12 days into January and Affordable Food had already provided enough free food for 1,136 people.
“It has never been this busy so early in January,” said Duane.
Affordable Food Stoke won two accolades at the 2023 Staffordshire University Business Awards – Team of the Year and Business in the Community (Charity). It has entered Team of the Year in the 2024 awards.
Duane said: “Since the last awards ceremony we have actually taken on more volunteers to offset the demand. We have recruited two more drivers, one more kitchen staff and three lounge buddies.
“The first two positions are self-explanatory but the lounge buddy is a role we created to support our community lounge on a Tuesday and Wednesday. We offer free tea, coffee, toast and cereal as part of our lounges and to co-exist with this we recruited volunteers to just float around and sit with people. Maybe it’s their first time in? Maybe they are lonely? Maybe they are suffering with their mental health? Whatever the reason we make sure everyone is not alone when they come in. People aren’t numbers and we want everyone to feel valued and important…because they are.”
Affordable Food Stoke’s 31 volunteers work across all of the services the charity offers. Duane and Nikki offer them ongoing training and support including team building away days and a work Christmas party.
Duane added: “Our volunteers and our team are everything. They are our heartbeat and their passion and character enables everything we do to happen. It all flows through them.
“One of our core goals when we formed Affordable Food Stoke was to engage with the local community and to create positive relationships. All of our volunteers are (or were) beneficiaries of one or more of our services which just shows how important the community is to the services we provide.”