Paul Simpson has praised the work of Carlisle Youth Zone and admitted that hearing about their support for vulnerable teenagers moved him to tears.
The Carlisle United manager was speaking at a business breakfast organised by the Youth Zone at which its development manager Lynsey Buckle told delegates about a 13-year-old girl who had been rescued from a life of abuse and drug use.
After visiting the Youth Zone to find somewhere warm to spend the evening the teenager was given support and found a place in a hostel where she could get away from her troubles.
“Alex is now 18 and five years ago she was frightened and desperate,” said Lynsey.
“Her story was featured on the front page of the News & Star, but just a few weeks ago we heard from her that in September she will start studying for a degree at University of Cumbria.
“There are many more children like Alex in Carlisle who need our support, our tenderness and our love,” she added.
Paul Simpson said he was “nearly crying” after hearing Lynsey and paid tribute to the “fantastic work” of the Youth Zone.
“It is an absolutely brilliant initiative to give young people a safe place to get together and give them support around issues such as mental health.
“They do fantastic work supporting kids who don’t have anywhere else to go as well as educating them about drugs and alcohol.
“It can give them a sense of the right and the wrong things to do, which is what Man City did for me when I was an apprentice,” said the former footballer.
Paul gave delegates an insight into his background too, growing up in Carlisle and playing for teams such as Raffles Rovers and the Denton Holme Conservative Club before he was spotted by a Manchester City scout.
Tom Scaife, of business lawyers Baines Wilson who sponsored the event at The Halston, interviewed him and said: “It was great of Paul to give up his time to support the Youth Zone and give us an insight into his mission to bring the feel-good factor back to United.
“It was fascinating to hear him talk about his career and the importance of sport to young people and the wider community.”
Paul also spoke of his optimism about United’s future.
“There are good people at the club, but it just needs an injection of life into it and to build up more support from the community and businesses in the city.”
He also revealed that when he proposed to his wife Jacqui he explained to her she might have to move around the country because of his footballing career.
He was true to his word and 34 years later they are moving into their 27 house.