With 975,000 people aged 16 – 24 not in education, employment or training (NEET) in the UK it is welcome news to many young people in London that Circle Sports is continuing to thrive.

Circle Sports is an innovative retail social enterprise that helps 18 to 24 year olds by providing a pathway into employment.

It is designed to inspire and motivate young people out of unemployment within a programme that includes bespoke coaching and mentoring, alongside retail and entrepreneurial training.


The social enterprise has a proven track record of helping NEET individuals into employment and speaking of the success of the training Chris Paine, Circle Sports shop manager said: “We’ve managed to get over 80 young people back into permanent work over the last six years so we’re making, only a small difference, but certainly making a difference to their lives.”


Chris puts this success down to focusing on the needs and ambitions of trainees from an early stage: “From day one [we know what they want to achieve] and we tailor the training to that, whether its customer service based training that we do on the actual course, secretarial work, admin etc. We have contacts for that and so on.”


So what makes Circle Sports stand out from a normal sports store? “When people spend instore they are helping their local community,” said Chris, “because this spend helps fund the training courses and the more training courses we can fund the more young people we can get back into work.”

So if you’re looking for the latest streetwear apparel with the added feel-good factor that simply by buying from a social enterprise you can help change lives visit: Circle Sports, 136 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2NS or go to their online shop at

Words: This article was written by Stephen Archer while taking part in The Big Issue online journalism programme with Poached Creative. To find out more visit their website.

Pictures: Stephen Archer.

Circle Sports were supported by Big Issue Invest’s Corporate Social Venturing programme in 2014, through this initiative they received corporate mentoring and investment.