“The change that I have witnessed as a parent has been astounding”

Jack, 18 is a young wheel chair user and by his own admission would struggle in social settings, however thanks to NCS he has a new found confidence.

His mum Bernie Jones from Middlesbrough has thanked MFC Foundation (Middlesbrough Football Club) and NCS (National Citizen Service) for giving her son, Jack, ‘a new sense of purpose’ and believes he has come on ‘leaps and bounds as a young man’ since doing NCS in 2019.

NCS is a 3-4 week programme in summer that provides young people aged 16-17 the chance to take on new challenges, experience exciting activities, and make long-lasting friendships and support young people’s transition to adulthood.

Jack, 18, is a wheelchair user which initially gave Bernie some doubt to Jack taking part in NCS;

“As a parent I most definitely had my reservations about Jack being a part of the NCS programme but the support from the MFC Foundation team was unbelievable. They catered to his every individual need and made the programme accessible for Jack. The change that I have witnessed as a parent has been astounding and anyone who is considering the programme then please don’t let this opportunity pass you by. NCS essentially has given Jack a new sense of purpose and as a young man he has come on leaps and bounds.”

Jack admits that before NCS he would struggle in social settings;

“The staff supported me in finding methods to support my additional needs. This supported me with making new friends and allowed me to challenge myself to try new things.

I’ve definitely got better at working in a team and I love the opportunity to be involved in discussions. But, most of all NCS allowed me to develop my self-confidence and make new friends. I realised that I could do just as much as other people if not more, and I’m so pleased that the NCS team at MFC Foundation helped me to achieve this.”

During Jack’s experience on NCS, he and his team supported a number of charities such as raising money for the local care home Hillcare, revamping the Teesside Nautical Studies centre and raising money for a local disability society which Jack is involved with. Jack said;

“My best moments on NCS were during week 4 doing our social action delivery. Supporting the local community and raising funds for a number of local charities which were quite personal for us as a team, really provided a highlight for me.”

Jack encompasses everything that NCS sets out to achieve for young people, it provides new opportunities, promotes and encourages social independence, gain new friends and build self-confidence.

Kelly Daley, NCS Manager at MFC Foundation supported Jack through his NCS journey said;

“Jack is an inspiring young man who wanted to be involved with all aspects of the NCS programme. His enthusiasm and zest for getting the job done was a pleasure to witness.  His development as a young man was significant from the beginning of the programme right through until graduation.”

Jack’s physical constraints did not prevent him from playing an instrumental role within the planning of the team’s social action project.

Jack is now a key member of MFC Foundation’s Youth boards where he regularly attends to continue making a positive impact in his local community.

This month, Middlesbrough Football club along with 43 other EFL and Premier League Clubs will celebrate the impact young people are having on NCS through #NCSMatchday. In 2019, young people from EFL Trust’s network delivered over 650 Social Action Projects, volunteered over 260,000 hours of social action and raised over £230,000 for local charities and causes that shines the light on the impact young people on NCS have had in their local community.

To find out more about NCS visit wearencs.com.

Student praises the impact of Education Pathway at Mansfield Town

Teenager Joshua Warren has heaped praise onto Mansfield Town Football in the Community’s Education Pathway, saying it’s helped him grow rapidly in confidence and better prepare for life in the working world.

Currently in Year 13, Joshua spent a year at a local college prior to joining Football in the Community’s education pathway, making the switch after finding college life difficult, and feeling like his personal development was taking a backward step.

Joshua said “I’ve always struggled with my confidence and at School always had the one to one support, as soon as I went to college it was the exact opposite which made it [confidence] go back to where it was but having one to one support again here has brought me back up.”

Elizabeth Regan, Education Officer at Football in the Community said, “He had a really good background in sport but he wasn’t pushing himself to the best of his ability – he was achieving pass/merit level within his work and over the time he’s been with us, he’s progressed on to predominantly distinction grades.

“He’ll happily get involved in class discussions now, he’s a completely different student in the classroom to what he once was – I’m so proud of the journey he’s been on.”

Mansfield Town Football in the Community will be changing the Education Programme in the next academic year, running one of the countries newest BTEC courses and switching to an 11-a-side games programme, however the core values will remain the same, something Joshua believes will continue to make a massive difference.

He said “I would recommend studying here to anyone because you get to learn and play/train which really takes the stress off of the work that you’re doing – it helps you to focus and gives you something to work for and complete it to the best of your abilities.

“Meeting new people was a worry for me at first but I’m really glad I took the step, meeting people who have had similar journeys to me and watching them grow is nice to see – being able to enjoy something that you loved as a kid every day is a really good experience.”

From September, Football in the Community students will enrol on the BTEC Level Three Diploma/ Extended-Diploma in Sports Coaching and Development and play weekly matches in the newly developed CEFA League, ran by the EFL – with students of all footballing experience and ability level welcome

Education Officer Elizabeth Regan added “We take huge pride in the fact that we are not an elite level football development programme – our focus is primarily on the Education to set students up for a better career.

“The amount of young people who fall through the net and don’t make the grade as a professional footballer is alarming, with a huge percentage of those so focussed on playing – their educational and life experience is minimal.

“Our programme has the right balance between competitive game time at a very good standard, education and work experience opportunities – as students will discover first hand within our environment.

“The course is perfect for those who have a thirst for playing and enjoy the game, but who always want to progress and forge a career for themselves, or even move onto higher education.”

For further information, contact Elizabeth Regan on 01623 656 920, or email elizabeth.regan@mansfieldtownfitc.net.

“Teens to help young people at danger of domestic abuse”

Three teens from Wigan have selected to be ‘Safe Teen’ Ambassadors helping young people at The Liberty Centre, a local domestic abuse charity. The teens volunteered to support The liberty Centre during their time on NCS (National Citizen Service) with Wigan Athletic Community Trust.

The Liberty Centre is a local charity in Ormskirk that provide a wealth of services for all victims of domestic violence and abuse. Inspired by the work of the charity, three members of the group wanted to continue volunteering at the charity after doing NCS and were offered the role ass ‘Safe Teen’ Ambassadors. All three NCS Graduates visited Liverpool John Moore’s University to do sessions and train to be a Safe Teen Ambassador. Their role is to empower young women and girls and encourage them to talk about issues and offering advice. They will regularly visit schools to run events which involve listening to young people and educating the younger generation of the dangers of social media and safety.

Ava Walsh is now a Safe Teen Ambassador and is incredibly proud of her role at The Liberty Centre;

“Our role as Safe Teens Ambassadors is to empower girls and young women (aged 13-19) to improve the quality of their life, fulfil their potential and keep them safe from harm. Without NCS we wouldn’t have been able to become Safe Teen ambassadors, so it’s helped us to help others. My new role has allowed me to give confidence to young people but in return it has given me a lot of confidence.”

During Wigan Athletics’ upcoming fixture against Middlesbrough the football club and players will celebrate the impact young people are having on NCS through a campaign called #NCSMatchday. NCS provides young people aged 16-17 the chance to take on new challenges, experience exciting activities, and make long-lasting friendships and support young people’s transition to adulthood. The experience concludes with young people planning and delivering a social action project in their local community.

The group from Wigan who were coming to the end of the NCS experience met with the manager of The Liberty Centre and got an understanding of how the group could support charity. It started with the rejuvenation of their garden so that children could enjoy this area and bring colour to what was a run down space. After raising money to fund their project the team got to work by painting the fences, building a vegetable patch, and tidying up the space for the children to enjoy. The remaining money raised was donated to the charity to help with the refurbishment of a children’s play room.

Stacey Hives, I deliver the Safe Teens Project at The Liberty Centre said;

“The project aims to empower young people (aged 13-19 years old) to improve the quality of their life, fulfil their potential and keep them safe from harm.

“We were very fortunate last summer to have a group of young people (including Ava) from NCS who transformed the garden area within our refuge, they sourced paint, tyres to use as planters and spent many days painting, planting, dens for children etc. We now have a colourful garden that is a nice place for our clients to be. They also raised a large amount of money to put towards outdoor play equipment.

“Ava did become a Safe Teens ambassador. She is an inspirational young person and has really helped us shape the programmes ensuring the views and opinions of young people are captured within delivery of the project.”

#NCSMatchday is a campaign supported by over 40 EFL and Premier League clubs across the country during February and March. In 2019, young people from EFL Trust’s network delivered over 650 Social Action Projects, volunteered over 260,000 hours of social action and raised over £230,000 for local charities and causes that shines the light on the impact young people on NCS have had in their local community.

Jack: “My life skills have been developed significantly because of the apprenticeship programme at Wigan Athletic Community Trust.”

Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s apprenticeship programme – aimed at 16-18 year olds – aims to help young people forge a successful career in the PE and sport industries.

One young person to benefit from the scheme is Jack Corless who completed the apprenticeship programme in March 2019 and now works for the Trust as a School Sport and Cohesion Coach.

As part of his role, he leads delivery of PE and sport in local schools, something that would not have been possible but for the apprenticeship.

Speaking during National Apprenticeship Week, he said: “Before I started the apprenticeship, I didn’t have the confidence to speak to someone new. Now I am a Head Coach and go into schools every day to teach PE to classes of 30 children.

“I have developed significantly as a coach and a person whilst being on the apprenticeship and I’m glad that I chose to do it.

“The parts of the programme I found most useful was the opportunity to deliver across a wide range of projects, such as Premier League Primary Stars and Kicks, to develop my knowledge and experience.

“My life skills have been enhanced significantly because of Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s apprenticeship programme.”

The 18-month programme provides the chance to gain valuable experience including assisting the delivery of PE in schools and working on local community initiatives.

With the opportunity to wear the badge and represent the Club as well, Latics fan Jack says the chance to work for his local professional club was one that was too good to turn down.

“One of the reasons I joined the apprenticeship was to gain many life skills and the perfect chance to pursue my career down the coaching pathway.

“But I also did it to have the experience of working for a professional football club. Wigan Athletic are my local club and one of the reasons that persuaded me to do it.

“I know for certain that my development as a sports coach would not have been anywhere near the same if I had gone to a different programme.”

Please email community@wiganathletic.com or call 01942 318090 to find out more about Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s apprenticeship programme.

National Apprenticeship Week: Grace Phillips’ story

From holiday camp participant, to youth councillor and student, to apprentice coach, Grace Phillips has been a continued advocate for positive change in her local community.

Grace first came into contact with Bristol City Robins Foundation at the age of just six-years-old when she attended one of the Foundation’s school holiday football camps. The youngster’s attitude at the camp and her clear leadership skills were quickly picked up upon by the Foundation’s coaches, who invited Grace to join the – then newly formed – Youth Council.

As part of the Robins Foundation’s Youth Council, Grace was keen to make football more accessible for women and girls and wanted to provide females of all ages the chance to get involved in the game that she had never had. Grace has since received both regional and national accolades for her dedication and commitment to community work.

Grace and her peers at the Foundation’s Youth Council worked to develop a multi-generational football session (named F3) to provide women and girls of all ages and abilities the chance to play football and have fun, free of charge. The project won the FA award for the best participation initiative in 2017/18.

From here, Grace decided to continue her studies through the Foundation’s education department, whilst simultaneously volunteering at the sessions she had worked relentlessly to develop.

Grace excelled academically at the Foundation and Bristol City Robins Foundation were in a position to offer the young coach the opportunity to join their workforce on a full-time basis, as an Apprentice Community Coach.

Grace is now an integral part of the Foundation’s community delivery and continues to develop as a coach.

Projects and Partnerships Manager at Bristol City Robins Foundation, James Edwards – who has worked with Grace since her first contact with Bristol City’s official charity over 15 years ago – commented: “Grace’s journey through the Foundation is the embodiment of what we strive for here at the Robins Foundation. Her commitment to the work that she carries out in the community is exceptional.

“Grace is an absolute credit to the Foundation and indeed to Bristol as a whole and we are incredibly proud to have her enrolled as an Apprentice Coach. I have no doubt that Grace will continue to develop as a coach and will be an immense success.”

Grace told the Foundation: “I’m so pleased that I have been able to have a positive impact on my local community.

“The opportunity to work as an Apprentice Coach with the Robins Foundation has been brilliant for me and I have really enjoyed being able to continue working in the local community. I feel like my coaching skills have really developed, and continue to develop as I gain more experience.”


#NationalApprenticeshipWeek, #NAW2020




EFL Clubs join biggest ever conversation on mental health, in support of Heads Up campaign


Football is coming together this weekend with the ambition to kick off the biggest ever conversation around mental health, as new research shows just 1 in 3 football fans regularly talk about mental health with their friends.

Over the past two seasons, the EFL has joined forces with Mind, the mental health charity, to help improve football’s approach to mental health and raise awareness around the country.

Now, for two weekends in February, every football team from across the English Football League, Premier League, The National League, The Barclays FA Women’s Super League, The FA Women’s Championship and The FA Women’s National League will dedicate their matches to Heads Up, a partnership between The FA and Heads Together.

Spearheaded by HRH The Duke of Cambridge, the season-long Heads Up campaign aims to harness the influence and popularity of football to normalise the conversation around mental health, working closely with charity partners Mind, CALM and Sporting Chance.

The ‘Heads Up Weekends’ will highlight the power of talking as a way to support one another and dispel stigma, with activity planned at fixtures across the men’s and women’s football calendar.

EFL Clubs will feature Heads Up branding across stadiums, programmes and player kit over the weekend of February 7-9, in a major unifying moment that aims to get the nation talking about mental health. Over the weekends, clubs will also be showcasing the work they do to improve mental health in their communities.

The weekends will further highlight the important work taking place across football to improve the approach to mental health in football. This includes the EFL and Mind’s ground-breaking charity partnership, which began in 2018 and has provided increased visibility, important training and support for Clubs, staff and fans, and raised vital funds for the mental health charity.

To officially kick off the Heads Up Weekends, and marking Time To Talk Day on Thursday 6th February, The Duke of Cambridge today joined players, managers, representatives and fans from the men’s and women’s game to take part in a table football tournament and a mental health conversation at Heist Bank in London.

In a message included in every matchday programme over the Heads Up Weekends, HRH The Duke of Cambridge wrote:

“Imagine if we talked about mental health as much as we talk about football…. Many of us won’t go a day without talking about it. And whatever team we support, every single fan, player and manager has one thing in common – we all have mental health, in the same way that we all have physical health. And we will all face ups and downs in life which will affect it. It’s time we start taking our mental fitness as seriously as we do our physical fitness, and that starts with talking.”

Chairman of the EFL, Rick Parry, said:

“Through our ground-breaking partnership with Mind, the EFL and its Clubs have worked hard to improve the approach to mental health in football and wider society, over the past two seasons.  Football provides a platform like no other to raise awareness and tackle society’s biggest issues and we’re proud to offer our support to the Heads Up campaign, as football comes together to further encourage the conversation around mental health. I look forward to seeing the impact over the two weekends.”

The Heads Up Weekends take place over February 7-9 and 14-17. Fans are encouraged to join the conversation using #KickOffAConversation and #HeadsUp.

Find out more and get tips from Heads Up’s charity partners (Mind, CALM, Sporting Chance and Heads Together) – visit www.headstogether.org.uk/Heads-Up.

Those wanting immediate support can also text ‘HeadsUp’ to 85258 to connect with a trained crisis volunteer – a service run by ‘Shout’ and powered by Crisis Text Line, which is available 24/7 and free to text from most mobile networks.

For further advice and support please visit www.mind.org.uk. To learn more about the EFL’s partnership with Mind, please visit: mind.org.uk/onyourside


Mick: “It feels like you’re a kid in a toy shop, having the opportunity with Crawley Town’s Extra Time Hub to be behind the scenes.”

Mick Brown, who has been a Crawley Town supporter for over 55 years, credits EFL Trust’s Extra Time Hubs for making him feel like a kid again and giving him a new lease of life after attending for a number of months.

EFL Trust’s Extra Time Hubs are run at 12 EFL clubs around the country and are funded by the National Lottery and Sport England. The Hubs are designed to bring retired and semi-retired people together by harnessing the power of their local Football Clubs and ultimately aimed at combating loneliness and inactivity. Crucially the Hubs create an informal atmosphere and enable the Hub members to decide which activities they want to do – nothing is off limits be it pilates, badminton, learning to play the ukulele or even sky diving.

Before joining the Hub, Mick was mildly isolated and suffered from mental health issues. He believes the Hub has really helped him to boost his mood and find structure in his life.

He explained: “Extra Time Hubs has given me a focus and a structure once a week, the sessions really boost my mood and meeting and talking to new people has really helped me get my self-confidence back.

“As you get less young, rather than older, you can become very insular only thinking of yourself and your immediate family but with coming out and doing things like this, you get to see other people.

 “Having a circle of people that you can meet once a week, has helped me to speak about issues and build new friendships, you can talk about things openly and help each other through it.

“It gives me a reason to get out of the house, otherwise I would just sit in front of the tele all day long.”

Studies show that 42% of those over the age of 55 are inactive. EFL Trust’s own research revealed many people would like the opportunity to meet peers to feel less isolated, live well and do the things they enjoy.

The Hubs harness the unique assets of the EFL Club Community Organisations (CCOs) network to bring older people together and provide a range of activities that could benefit their physical and mental health.

As well as taking part in well-being walks and indoor-based games at the Hubs, Mick is a particularly keen walking football participant and feels this has been crucial in benefiting his fitness and mobility.

As a boyhood Crawley Town supporter, he also states that being involved in Extra Time Hubs behind the scenes at the stadium makes it even more special.

He said: “One of our activities, walking football has really helped slow down the symptoms of arthritis in my knees and all of the activities I’ve been involved in have helped me to get some mobility back.

“As a normal fan you never get to be behind the scenes normally, but with Extra Time Hubs as it’s based at the stadium, you get the opportunity to see where the players go. It makes me feel like a kid in a toy shop.”

Emily Price: “The traineeship at Wigan Athletic Community Trust is one of the best things I’ve ever done”

The traineeship programme – aimed at 16-24 year olds – is designed to enhance the skills and experiences of unemployed young people, making them better prepared for further education and employment.

Thousands of young people, including Emily Price, have got their careers off to a flying start thanks to the traineeship programme.

Since completing the traineeship in summer 2018 with Wigan Athletic Community Trust, Emily started an 18-month apprenticeship with the Club.

Emily, who is a keen coach, with a huge passion for sport, helped deliver PE lessons in local primary schools as a part of the traineeship and states that this has been a ‘vital’ part of her development.

She said: “I’ve had a huge passion for sport since I was a little girl. I knew I really wanted to get into coaching, so to be given the opportunity by Latics was a real honour for me.

 “I was a little worried about it all at first though because I’d never really coached much before, but the more I got involved in activities the more comfortable I got.

“The traineeship is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It helped me to develop my confidence skills, and just being able to shadow the coaches and work with children from different backgrounds, allowed me to pick up new skills and learn ways to adapt to different sessions, which was vital.”

A traineeship also offers opportunities in fields such as business administration, media and hospitality, and includes Maths and English functional skills, access to qualifications, job application support, Club kit and bursaries.

“I met some great people on the traineeship and it’s not all about sport because you can go down so many different paths, which makes the programme an appealing one.

“If it wasn’t for the traineeship I’d probably still be trying to find my way into the sports industry, so I’d definitely recommend it because it brought me a lot of pride.”

Upon completing the traineeship, Emily successfully gained a place on the Trust’s apprenticeship scheme in September 2018, joining five other young people on the project.

“I knew I wanted to continue with my studies so I thought the apprenticeship would be an ideal thing for me to apply for.

“I’ve loved every minute of it so far and enjoy visiting schools and working with children.

“I’m ambitious so when I finish my apprenticeship I’d like to study a USW sports degree (University of South Wales), but my long-term aim is to one day get a UEFA Pro Licence, I really want that.”

Last year, Wigan Athletic were named North West EFL Community Club of the Year and were recognised alongside five other regional winners at Parliament for their outstanding work in the community.

Emily was chosen to represent the Latics as a part of the event and showcased her fantastic story. Talking about the award and being involved in the event, she said:

“Wigan Athletic Community Trust provides so much to the community. I’m so inspired to be a part of it because of the positive impact it has on so many local people.

“We are all very proud and overwhelmed that the hard work has been recognised with this award.”

To find out more about traineeships visit: https://www.efltrust.com/projects/traineeships/

FIT PILGRIMS meet their ambassador Joel Grant


Plymouth Argyle midfielder Joel Grant has been named ambassador for new well-being programme FIT PILGRIMS and went to meet the first cohort of people taking part.

Argyle Community Trust and the Plymouth Argyle Football Club are helping fans to tackle their weight, get healthier and be happier by joining FIT FANS, a free 12-week programme at Home Park.

Launched in January at 30 Clubs in England, the EFL Trust’s FIT FANS programme will be supported by over £2.25 million of National Lottery funding from Sport England and will aim to use the magnetism of football to tackle obesity levels in over 10,000 fans across the UK.

To help inspire the first wave of participants, newly announced ambassador Joel Grant attended the second session to help answer any questions about health, fitness and nutrition.

The 32 year old is proud to not only support the programme but happy to get hands on with the sessions, he said: “I intend to get as involved as possible by coming to sessions and working with people on the goals they want to achieve.

“I started working with the Trust on many of the health and well being campaigns because it’s a great passion of mine and I’ve had personal experience of coming back from injury and how it affected my mental health as well as physical and I hope that I can offer valuable support to those involved.”

A vocal and confident ambassador for school and health & wellbeing programmes, Joel is using the experience of his own challenges to relate to people who feel disengaged and work with them to inspire and motivate them to participate and even achieve more than they expect.

He admitted that this work helped him as much as it helped others, keeping him focused and seeing how little changes can make a big difference: “The whole process of coming back from injury and being involved with FIT FANS and coming along to community events has inspired me to do more and I offer support via my social media platforms to try and talk to more people about healthy living and the pathways available with the Trust.”

36.4 million people (61.4% of England’s population) live within 10 miles of an EFL ground, with four in 10 residents within this catchment area falling into the most-deprived population groups.

Sport England has identified lower physical activity participation rates among people living on low incomes and that is why they have joined forces with the EFL Trust network to help people create a long-term healthy and active lifestyle.

FIT FANS is one of several initiatives to tackle lower physical activity participation rates among people living on low incomes, which is one of Sport England’s key priorities.

“We are delighted to host the 12-week programme at Home Park and in partnership between the club, Argyle Community Trust and the EFL Trust,” said Mark Lovell, Head of Argyle Community Trust.

“FIT FANS is a superb initiative to get people moving and active. The health and well being benefits that come from regular physical exercise makes a genuine difference to people’s lives, and we look forward to welcoming the Green Army and our community on to this free programme.

Health and Disability Officer, Emma Potter added: “We are delighted to have Joel as our FIT FAN ambassador,  Joel is really passionate about making positive changes to benefit people’s health so to have him on board our programme is a huge bonus, it will hopefully motivate and inspire our participants and fans that little bit more to have Joel to look up to as a role model.”

For more details, please contact our Health and Disability Officer Emma Potter on emma.potter@pafc.co.uk 

World Cancer Day 2020: Michael’s Recovery Story

Derby County Community Trust’s cancer exercise and rehabilitation programme, Active Recovery, has provided a wealth of fantastic recovery stories and created a valuable network to all its participants over the last two and a half years.

Michael’s story is one that means a lot to the Trust as he is relatively new to the programme, joining in Autumn 2019, and has already found it a huge support mechanism after the loss of his wife to cancer and his own diagnosis earlier in 2019.

Having already been diagnosed with prostate cancer himself, his wife’s diagnosis came as a shock following a short illness on holiday which turned out to be pancreatic cancer which doctors believed she may have had for some time. He was due to start therapy with his wife but she sadly passed away before they were both able to start treatment.

Michael became reclusive and found it difficult to preoccupy his time after 50 years of marriage and despite his own treatment going well, he was finding little to be positive about after such a tragic event in his life.

In September 2019 he was given an information leaflet by his GP about Active Recovery.

He got in contact with the Trust and spoke to Health Team Leader Steph Thompson who reassured Michael about the fitness classes and friendly staff as he was hesitant about joining. After he attended his first class he has quickly made himself a regular, attending three sessions a week along with the weekly social Coffee Morning where he treats other participants to his homemade cakes.

Michael was full of praise for the programme, saying: “All the staff are so friendly. They’ve helped me with my previous injuries from a horse-riding accident and even made me a personalised exercise plan for the gym.

“I don’t know what I’d do – or would have done – without Active Recovery and the team.

“It’s given me a new lease of life and has motivated me to start other things in life like joining a choir.

“I look forward to every class and seeing all the people. I’ve now finished treatment and I feel great.

I can’t praise the hospital, the Trust and Active Recovery enough for helping me during such a difficult time in my life.”