Football with Argyle Community Trust Allows Oli to Feel Like a ‘Normal Teenager’

Oli is a young boy whose disability means he has problems with his coordination, communication as well as being partially sighted, which means he was very introverted and did not mix well with people. However, his mum credits Football with Argyle Community Trust as improving his self-confidence and allowing her son be a “normal teenager”.

Oli’s Secondary School recommended the Plymouth Argyles Trust’s Holiday Roadshows. For the first couple of years it was a massive challenge for his parents to get Oli to attend these. He was always fine once there and the continuity of the coaches was clearly important to him. However after over time, Oli now asks every time to make sure he is booked onto the Holiday Roadshows and can’t wait to get there for each ession. His progress is such that over the last 12 months he has also progressed to Argyle’s Ability Counts sessions, “something we could never get him to even consider”, said Oli’s mum.

“It’s a good opportunity for Oli to see friends on a regular basis who have the common interest of football.” Oli’s mum said. “His face lights up when he knows that certain friends are going to be at the session”.

Oli’s disabilities mean he cannot always socialise like a ‘normal’ teenager as he always needs someone to support him. The Ability Counts Football session is a chance for Oli to socialise with a group of young people with common interests. Although there are many physical benefits to taking part, it is the social aspect of these sessions that most beneficial to this particular group of young people.

Argyle Community Trust are part of the Every Player Counts programme which is funded by Wembley National Stadium Trust and EFL Trust.  Every Player Counts has, over the past four years, got over 11,000 disabled people into football. Barnsley are one of 28 Football Club Community Organisations across the country that offer the programme, which is specifically developed for the needs of people in their local community, including those with both physical, mental and learning impairments.

During the lockdown period, Oli has not wanted to leave the house, other than going to school, so he has really missed the benefits provided by the football sessions. The community trust recognised the importance, now more than ever, for disabled people to stay active and the positive impact this has on their mental health. Especially for Oli who is now preparing for his exams. The coaching staff at the Trust have been providing weekly football activity videos for the participants to take part in during the lockdown period.

Since participating in the Ability Counts session Oli’s self-confidence and self-esteem has grown, along with his willingness to communicate with others. Oli’s mum said, “We saw a turning point and it has definitely improved his self-confidence, knowing that he can do something, and it is an activity he now chooses to attend which is so important for him”.


Young People Provide Respite For Local Community

A community space can once again provide a vital respite for people with mental health challenges thanks to a group of young people.

18 young people, aged 15-17, from Wakefield have transformed a local allotment area which supports people who are experiencing problems with their mental health.

The group completed a two-week programme with Wakefield Trinity called ‘Keep Doing Good’. The programme is part of the National Citizen Service’s (NCS) ‘One Million Hours of Doing Good’, a wider pledge to enable up to one million hours of teens taking an active role in helping the country recover post Covid-19. In their final week, the group pulled up their sleeves and volunteered at Appletree Allotments in Wakefield.

This week is ‘National Allotments Week’ and the benefits of an allotment go much further than growing fresh produce – the outdoors and interaction with nature has proven benefits for mental health. Appletree Allotments is a community space, and is a referral place for people with mental health issues or who are suffering from loneliness. Once there, they receive 1-to-1 support sessions, meet new people and talk about their mental health.

The allotment relies on volunteers, but due to COVID-19 there have been fewer people able to help out and so it has become overgrown. The group of young people have worked hard to transform the allotment so it is a safe and happy place for people to visit once again.

Keaven, 16, one of the volunteers is delighted at what the team has done. He said;

“It’s been really nice to give something back to the community, especially to those that need it most. It’s been fun to volunteer at the allotment – we’ve been painting, weeding and even met the chickens! The people who work at Appletree are so nice and they’ve taught us loads.”

“It’s good to get some volunteering experience in a really friendly environment, especially after being home for so long!”


Bridget Hill, Charity Manager at Spectrum People who manage Appletree allotments said;

“What a difference a few days make and lots of wonderful NCS volunteer hours. We are so pleased to welcome this amazing group as their helping hands to Appletree which needed a lot of TLC. The individuals Spectrum People supports will really enjoy this space once they come back after lockdown.”

Thousands of young people in Yorkshire and The Humber, like this group of young people, are due to take part in ‘Keep Doing Good’ in August with EFL Trust (official Charity Arm of the English Football League) and other local organisations. During their time on the programme, young people will develop themselves and make a positive impact on the community through a social action project volunteering their time supporting local issues in their community.

For more information on ‘Keep Doing Good’ click here.

18 Year Old Katie Helps Support 70 Vulnerable Households

“Everyone should come together in times of need and work together as a team.” says Katie McDougall who has been volunteering with Preston North End ‘Helping Hampers’ Campaign, she continues, “As a young person, I’ve got lots of time on my hands and if I can volunteer my services, I will. If I can help others, put a smile on their face and get them through this hardship, then obviously it makes me feel good as well!”   

Katie, aged 18, joined Preston North End Community and Education Trust (PNECET) to volunteer for their ‘Helping Hampers’ Campaign. The campaign supports the most vulnerable people in the community of Preston with hampers of essential food and provisions.  So far she has helped provide 70 vulnerable household with essential provision to help get them through this difficult period.

Katie first came in to contact PNECET when she did NCS in 2019 and that is how she found out about the opportunity to volunteer for the ‘Helping Hampers’ campaign. NCS is a youth programme designed for 16-17 year olds that runs every summer and autumn. The experience is all about empowering young people, to help develop their skills that will set them up for life after school. On NCS, participants live away from home and get a taste of independence as well as positively impacting their local community through a social action project.

Katie said: I heard about this [PNECET Helping Hampers] because I’ve taken part in NCS. My family are quite involved with Preston [North End], follow them on Facebook, and saw that the Community and Education Trust are doing this really good scheme making hampers for vulnerable people.”

Katie is a student at Newman College and should have been doing her exams. Instead, she’s at home still studying but with plenty of time on her hands and so volunteered a few hours each week to help put together over 70 hampers together for vulnerable people within Preston.

Christine Latus is Preston North End season ticket holder and was a recipient of a PNECET Helping Hamper, she said;

“It’s absolutely wonderful, it’s a real surprise – I didn’t expect anything like this at all, but it’s really helpful and it’s lovely to think that the club are thinking about the supporters in these strange times. We obviously can’t go to matches or anything, so it’s really, really kind, I really appreciate it.”

NCS have recently launched ‘Keep Doing Good’ to help young people take an active role in the recovery of the country after COVID-19.

As part of Katie’s time on NCS she delivered a social action project that had a positive impact on the community. After her volunteering with PNECET Katie is keen to do more volunteering to support the community.

Katie said “It’s been great to help out and support the local community of Preston. I want to continue doing that and look forward to volunteering more in the community. I would encourage other young people my age to take up volunteering, it’s really rewarding and a good use of time”

Preston North End Community and Education Trust Community Partnerships Manager Rebecca Robertson said: “Katie has been a valued volunteer on our PNECET Helping Hampers campaign. She has spent time in our offices at Deepdale helping with making the boxes for our hampers and packing them with food, toiletries and other engaging materials for the vulnerable members of our community.

“It has been great to see one of our NCS graduates getting involved with our community initiatives during this difficult time and we’re looking forward to working with Katie more on the NCS Keep Doing Good project, as we’re sure she can continue making a real impact in our community!”

If you are 15-17 and want to support your local community volunteering then sign up to ‘Keep Doing Good’ and help get your local community back on its feet after. 

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Teens from Hull look to break the stigma

In Hull, 15 teenagers that have recently taken part in the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme with Tigers Trust have raised enough money to support 72 people that suffer with mental health.

As part of NCS, a flagship youth programme aimed at 15-17 year olds, participants deliver a social action project that will have a positive impact on their local community.

Due to personal reasons and recognising a national issue, the group of teens from Hull chose to support Mind, a national mental health charity that was recently announced as EFL’s (English Football League) new charity partner.

In the space of a week, the group wanted to raise funds and awareness of mental health. Their week started off with a bucket collection at local shopping centre St Stephens which was also an opportunity to raise awareness of Mind. The group then did a sponsored walk over the Humber Bridge which was chosen as a result of the high suicide rate on the bridge.

In total, the group raised an amazing £720 which will support 72 people in Hull with group support. As a momentum of their week, the group presented Mind with a mural which now sits in the headquarters of the charities offices.

Jasmine Russell, who was a member of the group from Hull, commented on their choice of charity: “We chose Mind due to mental health being very close to many people’s hearts within our group.

“Many of us either suffer from a mental health issue or know someone who does. The aim of our project was to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health as well as raising money through the sponsored walk across the Humber Bridge and the bucket collection in St Stephens.”

Keegan Hoyle, another member of the group, was delighted to be able to support Mind: “I think Mind is a great charity as they offer a wide range of help and advice for people that suffer from mental health which is becoming such a prominent issue in today’s society.”

The group’s hard work was recognised by David Smith, Chief Executive of Mind Hull and East Yorkshire, who wrote a letter of thanks to the youngsters, commending their work in the space of a week.

Thousands of teenagers from Yorkshire and Humber will be taking part in NCS this summer through EFL Trust and will be having a positive impact on their local community.

For further information about NCS visit