Former Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper returned to St. James' Park yesterday to support the Foundation's 'United for Employment' programme in his first role as Patron of the charity.

Harper, who is currently signed to Barclays Premier League club Hull City is now supporting the Magpie's official charity which uses the local passion for football and Newcastle United to engage, inspire and motivate people that others cannot reach.

Harper said "I was honoured to be asked to be a Patron of Newcastle United Foundation. After 20 years at the club, I have seen how football can make a difference to the lives of children, young people and families. I am delighted to support the Foundation's work which helps disadvantaged communities across the North East."

The 10 week course, funded by social landlord Isos Housing, provides training for unemployed people, alongside mentoring and football-related fitness work, to get them in the best possible shape to find the job they want. Steve attended the graduation event offering inspirational advice and handing out 'end of course' certificates to 13 course participants. 40% of those that took part in the course have now moved onto employment or further education, with others taking part in various volunteering roles.

Sarah Medcalf, Fundraising Manager, and Newcastle United Foundation, said: "We are delighted that Steve has agreed to become our Patron. Steve was an immensely popular figure at the football club and is a fantastic role model for the communities that we support."