Sunderland AFC stars back New Community Hub

Sunderland AFC management and players are lining up to support the North East’s newest sports, education, health and events venue – the Beacon of Light.

Throughout the summer, a string of Black Cats stars have attended a range of events and activities at the state-of-the-art facility, inspiring the business community and delighting hundreds of children and adults. The Beacon which opened this year will welcome around 6,000 people a week and act as a hub for people of all ages who want to take part in exciting programmes to improve their lives and prospects

Manager Jack Ross kicked off the new season in June at a special breakfast alongside SAFC legend Kevin Ball and corporate supporters on the EFL’s fixture release day where he discussed the exciting new era on Wednesday ahead of the League One campaign.

“I’ve been an ambassador for the Foundation for a few years now,” said former club captain Ball. “I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the people whose lives they’ve changed and seen the Beacon go from vision to reality. “Our charity is setting the standards for other football club worldwide.”

Then, ahead of SAFC’s Carabao Cup clash with Sheffield Wednesday in August, Charlie Wyke and Tom Flanagan watched a training session with the Foundation’s Scholars on the rooftop barn before taking part in a Q&A.

Impressed by the Beacon’s facilities, forward Wyke said:

“The Beacon is fantastic. It’s a good opportunity for young players to showcase their talent and a brilliant place. If I was a young lad playing here I would definitely thrive off it.”

Later that month, Josh Maja and Luke O’Nien surprised more than 60 youngsters at a summer multi-sports course, joining in small-sided football games and trying their luck on the Foundation’s sports inflatables before posing for photos and signing autographs.

Rounding off the summer’s player visits, Flanagan and Jack Baldwin joined a Every Player Counts session, a fun weekly football session for people with a range of disabilities.

“It’s really important to engage the local community,” Flanagan added. “I’ve visited the Beacon a couple of times now and it seems to get better every time. People are so lucky to be able to be able to use it and it’s definitely something they should take advantage of. It will be great to see people benefitting from the Beacon for years to come.”


Wigan Athletic Aim to Raise £100,000 to Buy Homeless Centre

Wigan Athletic have teamed up with local homelessness charity ‘The Brick’ for a second season to help rebuild the lives of people facing homelessness, poverty and debt crisis across Wigan and Leigh.

The Wigan-based charity will work closely with Latics throughout the 2018/19 season to aim to raise an incredible £100,000 to buy the Brick Works centre on Hodson Street near the town centre, which will secure it’s long-term future.

The Brick provide a safe, solid building block for people in crisis to begin to construct a new life and become valuable members of society. Services run by the charity include a Crisis Intervention Service and Wigan’s largest food bank, managed by a small team of staff and dedicated volunteers.

Latics fans will again be able to donate food and toiletries to The Brick’s collection points on home match days this season y where representatives from the charity will be outside the South East corner of the stadium, as well as bucket collecting around the ground.

The Brick Works, one of the charity’s innovative programmes, offers training to increase the employment opportunities for people who are unemployed for a variety of reasons, which may include homelessness, those who have been released from prison, people with mental health, low employability skills or the longer-term unemployed.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said of the partnership:

“I’m really pleased about this news because as Mayor of Greater Manchester I’ve made ending rough sleeping and tackling homelessness a top priority. I want to get all Greater Manchester borough’s pulling behind that objective, so to have one of our successful football teams partnering with such a great charity sends a hugely positive message out not only in Wigan Borough, but right throughout Greater Manchester.

“We can see the growing number of people huddled in doorways all over Greater Manchester and it’s a reflection of life becoming so much more insecure these days. We’re all just a couple of bits of bad luck away from being in those doorways ourselves, so this partnership is a recognition that rough sleeping and homelessness could hit any of us and that’s why we all need to understand the causes of it.

“We’re living in times where mental health is a bigger concern, people are feeling more stressed so we’ve all got to come together as one society to say it’s not acceptable in this day and age that anyone spends a night without a roof over their heads. We all believe that we can come together in Greater Manchester to look after everybody and that’s what this campaign is all about.”

“Every time I visit The Brick I’m just blown away by what they’re doing. I obviously saw The Brick grow first hand when I was MP and heard people talk about the difference the staff there had made to people’s lives. It’s an organisation that everyone in the borough is hugely proud of, but this partnership with Wigan Athletic as it goes into its second year means they can do so much more and help more people.”

Jonathan Jackson, Wigan Athletic Chief Executive, said:

“We’re delighted to partner with The Brick once again this season to help tackle homelessness, poverty and debt crisis across the borough. There were a number of highlights from last year’s partnership, and we look forward to working with the charity this season to raise the funds needed to secure their long-term future.”

Ged Bretherton, Business Director for The Brick, said:

“On behalf of our charity I’d like to thank Latics for trusting and supporting us for another 12 months to enable us to build the charity up brick by brick, but importantly to secure our long-term future by making the Brick Works our future home.

“The Brick aims to tackle homelessness and poverty right across the Wigan Borough and support some of its most vulnerable people, so we hope the club’s supporters will continue to show their immense generosity towards us as we embark on another exciting year-long partnership.”

Please text BRIK18 £5 to donate to The Brick.

Families Can Cook Up A Treat With Stevenage

Stevenage FC Foundation, in partnership with Stevenage Borough Council, Co-Op and North Herts College are launching a new FREE 8-week course for families to rediscover the fun in cooking.

The Community Kitchen project has been created to give families the opportunity to get new ideas on cooking healthy, fun meals without breaking the bank and most importantly, cooking as a family.

Sessions are being held at Marriotts School on Saturday afternoons, 4pm-6pm starting on 6th October and are totally FREE, with spaces for 6 families per course.

As well as sharpening culinary skills, families will also be given some top tips on topics like sugar swaps, planning meals, getting in your 5 a day and more.

Led by Stevenage FC Foundation, sessions will be delivered by Hannah Marsh who over the last three years has been the driving force behind the Get Active project in Stevenage to help improve the health and wellbeing of residents.

Stevenage FC Foundation’s, Joe Goude said

“The Community Kitchen is such an exciting project for the Foundation. Getting people thinking about ways in which they can make subtle tweaks to their time in the kitchen and enjoy cooking as a family is something we feel can have a big impact in the town. This isn’t a weight loss or physical exercise programme, just simply about coming together as a family and enjoying an activity that we all do every day.

“There’s a fantastic social element to it as well, getting families socialising with other families whilst taking part in a fun and friendly activity. The support we’ve had so far from the partners of the programme has been phenomenal and unprecedented for a new project of ours. We’ve received funding from Public Health, SBC and individual councillors as well as great support from Co-Op and North Herts College with creating the content. We’re really excited to get started”.

Stevenage Borough Council’s Sport and Wellbeing Manager, Joe Capon explains

““The Community Kitchen is a great local project. It’s not just about helping families to eat well and improve their cooking skills. It’s also about bringing the social aspect of meal times into family life, so families can reconnect over a nutritious meal and spending quality time cooking it together.

“It’s also educational for the children as they can get stuck into the food preparation and increase their knowledge and interest in where ingredients come from and how they go together.  With so many demands on family life now it’s sometimes hard to find the time to cook fresh all of the time, but with the right know how and a small budget, families can have a healthy meal on the table in 20-30 minutes.”

As well as support from organisations across the county, the project is part funded by Public Health Hertfordshire and has received support locally from Stevenage Borough Councillors Sarah Mead, Liz Harrington, James Fraser, John Gardener, John Mead and Elaine Connelly.

For more information and to get your family’s place on the first course please visit or contact the Foundation via email [email protected] or call 01438 223223 (Option 6).

Newport County Search for Life Saving Donor


Newport County are opening their gates before their game with Yeovil Town early  this Saturday  in a bid to find a potentially life saving bone marrow donor for a six year old Marley Nicholls

Marley who has recently been diagnosed with a rare condition called Aplastic Anaemia.   The disease only affects around 30  to 40  children in the UK each year and without a bone marrow transplant the condition will be fatal within a few years.

On Saturday 15th September, Newport County AFC and Rodney Parade will be opening the gates early to host swabbing stations for Marrow for Marley, a campaign set up in aid of the six-year old. .

The swabbing stations will open from midday and will be located in the Stadium Marquee.  This can be accessed by coming through the main Rodney Parade gates which are on the corner of Grafton Road and Beresford Road.

The swab stations will remain open until 3pm and will re-open after the game from 5pm-6pm.  The process of signing up as a donor will take less than five minutes and the swabbing will take just seconds.  That’s just five minutes to find out if you can save a special little boy’s life.

Yeovil Town supporters will also be able to donate as a table will be set up in the Stadium’s Away Supporters Bar between 1.30pm-3pm.

Marley is a very special, fun-loving little boy and has captured the hearts of everyone who’s been touched by his story.  This is obvious from the fact people have flocked in their thousands to be swabbed in the hope that they are a potential donor.

On Saturday, Marrow for Marley will be welcoming anyone aged 17-55 to be tested to see if they are Marley’s match. (Please note that people with certain autoimmune and blood diseases are not able to be donors – information about this can be found online).

Marley and younger brother George will be joining the Club as special guests on Saturday and will be walking out with the team.

If you’re coming to the match early to get your swabs done, there will be family-friendly football-based activities taking place on the grass outside the Marquee from 1pm.  The use of the grass is weather permitting.

To find out more about Marley and to follow the progress of the campaign follow Marrow for Marley on Facebook  and Twitter.

Click Here To find out more about being a donor 

EFL Trust Conference Hailed as ‘Best Ever’

Charities representing EFL clubs from across the country came together at St George’s Park this week for the EFL Trust’s Annual Conference.

The network of 72 EFL Club Community Organisations reach over 1 million people each year with project and activities that the improve health, inspire education, reduce crime and bring communities together.  The EFL Trust National Conference is an opportunity for the network to come together in one place to hear inspirational speakers, discuss key issues, share best practice to enable them to positively benefit the lives of more people in their communities.

Leading the Conference this year were two amazing young people who themselves are testament to the work of the EFL Trust.  Cara Harrison and Charles Gray, both aged 18, completed the National Citizen Service (NCS), through the EFL Trust’s network. NCS develops life skills and helps the integration of 15-17 years olds into their community. Both young people handled the daunting situation of speaking in front of an audience of 200 people with maturity beyond their years and were a shining example of the skills and confidence gained from being part of NCS.

EFL Trust Chairman John Nixon then opened proceedings before handing over to EFL Trust Director of Operations, Mike Evans and EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey, who spoke about the important part that EFL Clubs and their Community teams play in delivering life-changing community projects, reaching one million people every year and investing a collective £67m in their local areas.

Hardip Begol, Director at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and a strong advocate at the heart of Government about the power of sport, then addressed the Conference about integration and reflected upon the unique position that Clubs are in to engage hard to reach people.

Later, Mind CEO Paul Farmer addressed attendees as the EFL begin a ground-breaking new charity partnership this season. As part of the Conference, The EFL Trust signed the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation, pledging an aligned approach and commitment with EFL to focus on the health and wellbeing of their teams.

Workshop sessions provided the opportunity for delegates to focus on key areas of interest including strategy for the future; a Prison Twinning project, delivered by David Dein and Jason Sweetenham; finance; governance; HR hot topics; the Mind partnership and Club Trust business development.

Day two kicked off with members of the community teams taking part in a run around St.George’s Park, inspired by the morning’s first speaker, founder of parkrun, Paul Sinton-Hewitt. Paul started a 5k run in his local park and from that small acorn he created the world wide phenomenon that is parkrun, which now takes place in 1,500 locations around the World with over 2.3 million participants. His message to the Club Community Organisations was to be strong enough to follow those people who stand up and want to make a difference and to break down barriers preventing change.

The 2018 Checkatrade Community Club of the Year, Derby County, reflected on the strength of the work going on across the network and shared some of the innovative and impactful work they have delivered.

The Conference was rounded off with an energetic address from fund raising expert Rob Woods, who focused on techniques to communicate the story of our charities successes and impact more effectively.

The EFL Trust would like to express thanks to all delegates, speakers and workshop hosts who made the tenth anniversary Conference a very memorable event.


Latics ‘Life Changing’ Charity Reaches Work More than 12,000

Wigan Athletic Community Trust have this week are delighted to release their latest report, which demonstrates the positive impact on more than 12,000 people in Wigan and the surrounding area over the past year.

The Community Trust works in partnership with Wigan Athletic to Improve Health, Enhance Life Chances and Create Stronger, Safer Communities. The charity were described as a ‘revelation’ and a ‘life-changing’ organisation in the report, and has three priority areas of work: Schools, Community Development, Training and Skills, and aims to:

  • Increase participation in sport across all levels of society – particularly those from underrepresented groups
  • Encourage young people and families to lead healthier and more active lifestyles
  • Improve the skills, aspirations and achievements of young people
  • Contribute towards increased community cohesion by improving the quality of life for young people and families.

Tom Flower, Head of Community at Wigan Athletic Community Trust, said:

“Last year we launched our new vision for the next three years, so it’s great for us to be able to look back on our work over the past 12 months to see the incredible results that have been achieved.

“Our work wouldn’t be possible without the support of Wigan Athletic, and national and local partners such as the Premier League, EFL Trust, PFA and Wigan Council, who I wish to take this opportunity to thank.”

Wigan Athletic Community Trust at a Kayaking sessions at Scotsman’s Flash in Wigan.

Phillip Williams, Chair of Trustees, said:

“On behalf of the Trustees I’d like to thank all staff for their continued hard work and for the way they conduct themselves with such passion when wearing the Latics badge. They’re a credit not only to the Community Trust but to the football club as a whole.”

First team players make hundreds of appearances at Community Trust events throughout the season, with sessions ranging from coaching pupils in primary schools to taking part in walking football activities.

Jonathan Jackson, Wigan Athletic Chief Executive and Trustee of the Community Trust, said:

“I’m extremely proud of the charity and the important part it plays in the day to day operation of the football club. This report is testimony to the outstanding work and commitment of its staff to improve the lives of people living in Wigan and surrounding areas.”

To read the Impact Report, please click here.

Luton Town Disability Team Benefits from Checkatrade

The Checkatrade Trophy has returned – and for some in attendance across the country, the competition offered a rare opportunity to experience a live match under the floodlights.

As official sponsor of the competition, Checkatrade gave each home team twenty tickets to giveaway to supporters who otherwise may have not been able to attend the fixture.

This week, we take a look at one of those Clubs to benefit, as Luton Town Football Club’s Community Trust gave twenty tickets to their Adult Disability Team.

With many of the group unable attend due to financial restraints, the tickets enabled the Trust to help combat social isolation, something that is part of their remit for the ‘Every Player Counts’ project.

Luke Hyde, the Disability & Inclusion Officer at Luton Town’s Community Trust, said: “The ticket giveaway was a great idea and we used this to allow some of our Every Player Counts participants the chance to watch a first team game.

“Most of our participants don’t have the opportunity to watch the first team play as they don’t have the adequate funds to pay for tickets.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Checkatrade for the great offer. Our participants enjoyed the experience and it was great to see the team win.”

Free Bus travel helps thousands of teens on NCS

Thousands of young people from across South Yorkshire have benefited from free bus travel when taking part in the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme thanks to First South Yorkshire.

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