Six Winners of Checkatrade Community Club of the Year Revealed

Six EFL Clubs will be recognised at Parliament for their outstanding work in the community, the EFL has announced today.

As regional winners of the Checkatrade Community Club of the Year, six of the EFL’s 72 Clubs were selected for their innovative and ground breaking work across inclusion, community engagement, education and health. The 2019 winners are listed below alongside details of their showcase community projects.

Yorkshire & North East – Rotherham United

Building Stronger Communities – United impressed the judges with their response to their town’s priorities, focusing on anti-social behaviour, youth offending, health and community cohesion and integration. Rotherham’s ‘Building Stronger Communities’ project, funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), was viewed as stand out, and focused on improving the lives of individuals in the community, based around the themes of English language support and cohesion.

North West – Wigan Athletic

A key project that caught the judges’ attention, Pathway 2 Participation, is a mentoring project working with some of the most vulnerable young people in Wigan focussing on one of the top 10% of deprived neighbourhoods in the country. The project helps young people and works hand-in-hand with a range of supporting agencies including schools, youth justice agencies and mental health services to help them through the challenges they face.

Midlands – Coventry City

Turn2Us is a school holiday programme that offers families with children, who receive free school meals during term times, the chance to maintain a healthy diet throughout the year. Operating in an area of high deprivation, the Community team welcome children several days a week, providing meals, activities and workshops for their families.

London – Queens Park Rangers

Queens Park Ranger’s continued support for the individuals in their community in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster has created a stand out project, using therapeutic interventions to support primary school children directly or indirectly affected by the tragedy in 2017.

South East – Portsmouth

Portsmouth impressed the panel with their ongoing innovative work for a wide range of individuals in their Community – their youngest participant is three and their oldest 101. Their groundbreaking project, based on a restorative justice approach for young fans involved in violence at Portsmouth games, was universally applauded by the judges.

South West – Bristol City

Bristol City’s education and employability projects and outcomes impressed the judges this year. The environment created for learning and the commitment of the team to support students beyond their learning experience proved a standout to the panel. The ongoing work of their Youth Council also continues to impress and highlights the importance and potential of young people in our communities.The houses of parliament

The six Clubs will be honoured at the House of Commons on Monday 4 March to receive their awards with EFL Interim Chair Debbie Jevans, EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey and host Hayley McQueen all confirmed to attend.
The overall winner of the 2019 Checkatrade Community Club of the Year Award will be announced at the EFL Awards on Sunday 7 April in central London.

EFL Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey, said: “Football Clubs play such an important part in communities up and down the country so it is essential we recognise their fantastic work. “This is the third time we have held the Parliamentary event to recognise the Checkatrade Community Club of the Year regional winners and I am once again hugely impressed by the dedication and commitment shown by our Clubs in tackling some of the most challenging issues in society.  “They play an important role in dealing with issues such as homelessness, reducing crime and improving health and education. This life-changing work can make a significant difference to some of our most vulnerable people and is testament to the power of football as a force for good.”

The EFL received strong submissions from a wide range of Clubs with the panel marking the applications on social impact and their showcase projects.

The six regional winners were selected by an independent judging panel including, The Times’ Chief Football Writer, Henry Winter; Clive Efford MP; Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at The PFA John Hudson; The Daily Mail’s Laura Lambert and the EFL Trust Director of Operations, Mike Evans.

Another national award for Blackburn Rovers Community Trust

Blackburn Rovers Community Trust’s support of the local Islamic community has helped the charity to win its first ever accolade at the British Muslim Awards.

The official community outreach arm of the football club were named as the ‘Community Initiative of the Year’ winners at the national awards ceremony on Wednesday night, in recognition of their tireless efforts to offer experiences and opportunities for the benefit of Blackburn with Darwen’s Muslim residents.

A delegation from the charity travelled to West Yorkshire to attend the ceremony at The Bradford Hotel, where they were recognised for the range and diversity of the projects they have offered to that section of the local community, including citizenship and anti-racism programmes, hosting inter-faith sports tournaments, supporting aid appeals from Islamic charities and offering stadium visits and coaching sessions for refugees and asylum seekers.

Much of the work that was recognised on the night is coordinated by the Community Trust’s community inclusion manager, Ilyas Patel, who was overwhelmed at being recognised as one of 30 award-winners at the nation-wide celebration.

“I’m just so shocked to be honest,” he admitted. “It was unexpected, but it’s great that a national award has recognised the work that we’re doing in our local community.

“I’ve accepted the award on behalf of everyone at the Community Trust who work so hard – day in, day out. Making a difference to our community is what we do every day.

“I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone within our charity and the support from the football club for giving the platform to achieve this success, as well as those within our local community who kindly nominated us to be in contention for this prize. It’s heartening to know that they really value what we’re doing.”

The British Muslim Awards are in their seventh year and exist to recognise the wide range of achievements from outstanding individuals across the UK who positively impact business, charity, sport, arts, culture, religious advocacy, education and medicine.

The Community Trust’s triumph was its fourth major award in the past 12 months, having also been recognised for its contribution to local society at the most recent EFL Awards, HIVE Awards and Northwest Football Awards.

To find out more information about Blackburn Community Trust visit: 

Reece: “I don’t know where i’d be without the NCS programme.”

• Reece is an NCS graduate having taken part in last year’s programme.
• He now studies an 18-month apprenticeship with the Community Trust.
• Latics’ game against Stoke City on Wednesday night is an #NCSMatchDay.

For 17-year-old Latics fan Reece Webster, Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s National Citizen Service programme has helped to develop him as a person as well as provide him with exciting opportunities to continue his educational development with the club’s official charity.

Reece, who first started out on the Train with Latics course and now studies an 18-month apprenticeship with the Community Trust, credits NCS for helping him to improve his confidence and self-esteem having taken part in the scheme last year.

A national programme which aims to improve the confidence, leadership and teamwork skills of youngsters aged 15-17, NCS gives them the opportunity to gain invaluable work and life experiences.

As part of a wider EFL Trust campaign, Latics’ game against Stoke City at the DW Stadium on Wednesday night will be the club’s dedicated #NCSMatchDay which will see coaches from the Trust promote the programme to youngsters in the Family Zone underneath the East Stand.

Reece said: “I picked up so many different skills on NCS, things like people-skills, communication, confidence and decision-making, all of which have helped me to become a better person.

“Confidence is the biggest change in me though, I’m now a lot more confident and don’t really know where I’d be without the NCS programme, it’s been a really big help.”

Broken into four phases; adventure, discovery, social action project and graduation, NCS gives participants the chance to take on new challenges, complete various activities, make long-lasting friendships and develop skills that will support them with the transition to adulthood.

“I’ve met so many new people and have made lots of friends as part of NCS, some of which I probably would never have met if I hadn’t have signed-up to the programme.

“Even though I was a little bit nervous at the start of it all, I’m so glad I kept at it because I really enjoyed myself and it was one of the best experiences of my life and it led me to gaining a place on the Community Trust’s apprenticeship programme which I was delighted about.

“I now help to deliver PE and school sport sessions in primary schools across Wigan, which has further helped me to develop my skills and increase my confidence.

“I’d 100% recommend NCS to any young person in Wigan because it provides you with some unbelievable experiences and memories.”

Are you a current Year 11 or 12 student and want to know more about Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s NCS project?

Please email NCS manager Mick Whittle on [email protected] or call 01942 318090 for further information about the programme.

Joe’s Journey

Like most teenagers, Joe, from Sheffield, wasn’t sure what to do in life or what options were available to him for his future; until he did NCS with Sheffield United Football Club back in the summer of 2012.

Joe was one of the first teens to take part in NCS, not knowing the impact it would have on his life. He was part of the first and only national graduation that took place at the O2 Arena in London which was followed by a seat at Wembley to watch England in a World Cup Qualifier.

At the time, Joe felt that learning in a classroom environment wasn’t for him and he was adamant about not going into further education, until Chris Bailey, who was Education Manager at Sheffield United Community Foundation opened Joe’s eyes to the opportunities at the Club.

Eventually, Joe enrolled onto a Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport with Sheffield United and went on to achieve a First Class BSc (Hons) in Sport Development with Coaching at Sheffield Hallam University.

Chris Bailey, now Head of Sheffield United Community Foundation, met Joe on NCS in 2012:

“Joe was a bit of a challenge to start with, but the investment of our time with him paid off tenfold. Two years after Joe had achieved a Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport, he earned himself a place at University.

“Not to mention, Joe represented SUFC in the Futsal National Finals, winning trophies and accolades along the way. Not bad for someone who didn’t want to go on and continue his studies.”

Whilst studying at University, Joe volunteered his time on the NCS programme, drawing on his experience to support other teens on the programme at a number of south Yorkshire Clubs including Rotherham United and Sheffield Wednesday before eventually landing a full time role as NCS Recruitment Engagement Officer at Sheffield United.

Joe spoke about NCS:

“NCS and Sheffield United really opened my eyes to opportunities I didn’t know were available.

“Working full time on NCS is an incredible. I am now in a privileged position to give back to NCS and support teenagers who were in similar situation to me.” 

Chris was delighted to have Joe full time on the programme where he started his journey six years ago:

“When I found out Joe had applied to join the Foundation as an employee on NCS, I knew instantly that we had a very trustworthy and committed young man.

“Fortunately our NCS Manager thought the same, and Joe became an employee in 2018. It’s amazing what you can achieve by saying yes to the programme.”


Sheffield United are 1 of 22 other clubs across the EFL and Premier League who will be hosting an NCS Match Day in February. NCS Match Day is an annual event championed by EFL Trust to celebrate the positive impact that young people are having in local communities across the country. The club’s first team players will have an important role to play by warming up in NCS branded t shirts and meeting programme graduates.

To find out more about NCS visit:

Cambridge United Community Trust’s ‘Mind Your Head’ programme highlighted as example of good practice in Parliament report

Cambridge United’s ‘Mind Your Head’ programme has been cited in an All-Party Parliamentary Group report as an example of good practice in the mental health sector.

The report, which was prepared by a working group of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood programme, quotes ‘Mind Your Head’ on pages 53-55 as “an example of a successful practice based evidence programme that is certainly capable of successful adoption and replication in other school settings.”

You can view the report here

The programme, which is delivered through Cambridge United Community Trust in partnership with Cambridge youth mental-health charity Centre 33, aims at helping secondary school children deal better with stress and anxiety.

To date, the programme has been delivered to more than 1000 students over six sessions that destigmatize mental health, educate young people about how to deal with stress and also encourage young people to discuss how social media can both positively and negatively affect their well-being.

Talking about the impact of the programme, Adrian Bradley, Head of Sport and Health at EFL Trust said:

“It’s excellent to see the Mind Your Head project cited in the report and it is a good example  of the large amount of work going on at EFL Clubs helping their communities to tackle mental health issues.’’

Paul Farmer, CEO of MIND, praised the Club’s approach. He said:

“It’s great to see Cambridge United taking such a strong leadership position in putting mental health at the heart of football. Their ambition to be a mentally healthy club, supported by their practical action plan, is a model for the game. Mind’s partnership with the EFL is seeing clubs across the country starting to take action, working together with local Minds…I’m delighted to see the CUFC approach in the club and community taking shape.”

Ben Szreter, Cambridge United Community Trust CEO, said:

“We’re flattered to have had recognition within parliament for our Mind Your Head schools programme. Cambridge United’s ambition to be a mentally healthy football club has taken shape over the last year or so across the football club and we’re pleased to be able to help to open up conversations about mental health and destigmatise the issue.”

To find out more about Cambridge United Community Trust’s ‘Mind Your Head’ programme visit: 

Community Takeover: Children from community projects take part in matchday roles at Brentford game

Brentford’s stunning victory over Blackburn Rovers on Saturday was helped by a very special person. Eira Griffiths,12, added a magic touch to the coaching team as she took on the role of ‘Young Head Coach’ for Brentford’s first ever Community Takeover Day. And she clearly made an impact as The Bees came back from 2-0 down to win 5-2.

From the press box to the football pitch, ten children – from eight of Brentford FC Community Sports Trust’s community projects – went behind scenes and joined matchday staff to learn the ropes.

Highlights included:

  • The mini referee, Dajahn Lang, had the important task of pressing the buzzer and calling the teams before the match begun.
  • Charlie Wilkins swapped the classroom for the dressing room as he helped prepare the players’ kit with the Club’s Kit Man Bob Oteng.
  • Leah Hunt, 12, who was transformed into a journalist as she wrote her match report in the press box and took over Brentford FC’s Twitter account, which included announcing Ollie Watkins’ goal that brought the score back to 2-2.
  • Mia Lloyd helped capture the elation of the Brentford players’ goals as she took on the role of Club Photographer.
  • Isis Cuttings proved a worthy pundit as she described the drama of the match as a matchday commentator on Griffin Park’s gantry.

And Eira Griffiths, who has been part of the Trust’s girls’ football programme for nearly five years, played an instrumental role in sealing the victory. Fans rose to their feet as she joined Thomas Frank in celebrating the win on the pitch for the post-match celebrations before heading in to the dressing room where she was presented with a shirt by Neal Maupay, who scored Brentford’s fourth goal.

Talking about the experience, she said:

“My favourite part of the day was going into the changing room and seeing what the players get up to before and after the game.”

All the children involved benefit from the Trust’s community projects, which includes supporting young carers, children with autism and young people in the local area.

Donald Kerr, Vice Chairman of Brentford FC and Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, said:

“The Community Takeover epitomises everything Brentford FC is trying to achieve – embedding the local community within the heart of our football club. As we prepare to move to our new stadium, we are committed to taking the community with us on this exciting new journey – ensuring that everyone can be part of Brentford FC.

“The event on Saturday not only proved the Club’s commitment to the community, but it also showcased the impact the Community Sports Trust has on young people across west London.”

The match was part of Brentford FC’s ongoing commitment to community initiatives. For every ticket bought at the game, £1 was donated to Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Tony on Active Recovery: “Working in a group going through a similar experience was so motivating.”

Tony, aged 75, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer nearly seven years ago, credits Derby County Community Trust’s Active Recovery Programme for keeping him highly motivated throughout his treatment.

Within a few months of diagnosis he had the tumour removed, but in a routine check-up six months after the procedure, tests indicated that the prostate was not fully removed.

This meant Tony had to begin a course of aggressive radiotherapy, where he had 33 courses in just two months, leaving him physically drained.

Despite the treatment being successful in removing the prostate, 18 months later significant bleeding led to a sigmoidoscopy which discovered radiation burns. There was no treatment option, only to wait and hope that the burns would heal and scar over.

Almost six years after his initial diagnosis, Tony was discharged by his consultant in May 2018, but still requires follow up tests as a precaution.

Throughout his illness and treatment, Tony was a member of the Derby Prostate Support Group, and was invited to a Macmillan Health and Wellbeing Event at Pride Park Stadium. The Derby County Community Trust team gave a talk on Active Recovery, an exercise programme designed to complement cancer treatment and recovery.

Tony got in touch with Derby County Community Trust’s cancer advisor, and due to living outside the city of Derby, agreed to try one session a week. He’s not looked back ever since, and is a dedicated member of the group, who not only has helped himself by taking part but spreads the word about the programme to ensure as many people who are overcoming cancer can gain the additional support.

From diagnosis and through treatment, Tony felt significant physiological changes, which led to behavioural changes and psychological problems. He experienced a loss of self-confidence and low self-esteem, and his family were affected too as they found it difficult to come to terms with everything that was happening.

Through joining the Derby Prostate Cancer Support Group, Tony and his family realised that they were not alone with their problems, psychological therapy improved his self-esteem and helped his family to understand the changes and the impact of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Active Recovery improved his self-confidence due to improvement in balance, coordination and stamina. Working in a group with others who were overcoming cancer like himself was hugely important to Tony, and most he found that it was highly motivational.

He said: “The hardest part of dealing with cancer diagnosis and treatment was the way it changed my behaviour and feelings, as this didn’t just impact me, but my family. Support groups, therapy and Active Recovery helped us realise that we weren’t alone in what we were going through.”

 “Active Recovery really improved my self-confidence as I was able to better my balance, coordination and stamina. Working in a group with others going through similar experiences to myself was really motivating as we were able to support one another.”

To find out more about the Derby County Community Trust’s cancer rehabilitation programmes, please see:




World Cancer Day: TRIC walking football sessions have had positive effect on Mike

Ahead of World Cancer Day, Tranmere Rovers in the Community spoke to regular walking football attendee Mike McGovern about how attending walking football sessions helps him remain embedded in the sport and community he loves.

Mike was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney in 1994, which was later removed after successful surgery.

However, 14 years later, a further tumor developed on the inside of his mouth which resulted in Mike having to undergo facial reconstruction surgery to remove it.

Eight years post-treatment and Mike now attends our walking football sessions twice a week. He has described the ability to partake in the group activities run by Tranmere Rovers in the Community as being ‘absolutely phenomenal’ for his health and wellbeing.

Speaking about his diagnosis, he said:

“My first diagnosis was in 1994, I had a tumor in my kidney the size of a grapefruit. They removed my kidney and the cancer was encased inside of the kidney, so it hadn’t spread. Surgery was all the treatment I needed in 1994.

Then in 2008, I developed a tumor on the inside of my mouth. It was a different cancer to the one I had in my kidney so they had to take a harsher approach. They made an incision in my face, lifted a part of it off and removed the tumor. After that they were able to rebuild the inside of my mouth using skin grafts.

Unfortunately, no one knows why, I had a reoccurrence in my right jaw some time later. This is very unusual as only 5% of people have a reoccurrence but I did.

They removed my jawbone complete with its teeth, took my fibular bone out of my leg and rebuilt the front of my jaw with a titanium plate. Aintree University Hospital is a world-leader in maxillofacial reconstruction and the work they do there is unbelievable.”

Four years after his treatment, Mike retired from work and has since been attending the Recreation Centre for walking football sessions:

“I am now eight years post treatment, I retired in 2014 from the rail industry and then within three or four months I was here. I’ve spent the last four years, twice a week, thoroughly enjoying myself.

I can’t tell you how much I look forward to coming to play football here at Tranmere Rovers. It’s wonderful, absolutely wonderful.

When you retire you don’t miss the work, you miss the people and the banter and I get that in spades in here. They are all men, similar age to me. We laugh and we joke and it’s absolutely phenomenal.

I really recommend it to anyone who wants to do a bit of sport but also wants the social aspect of it, the laughter and the banter, it’s absolutely fantastic.”

Tranmere Rovers in the Community hold walking football sessions for both women and men throughout the week in the Recreation Centre:

Monday: Men’s Over 50s – 2-3pm
Tuesday: Women’s Over 40s – 11-12pm
Wednesday: Men’s Over 50s – 11-12pm
Friday: Men’s Over 60s – 11-12pm

For more information about TRIC please get in touch by email: [email protected] or call: 0151 608 2354.

Ron: “I believe walking football saved my life.”

Ron, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December 2017, believes that if it wasn’t for joining Sky Blues in the Communities (SBitTC) walking football sessions three years ago, he may have never took the important prostate-specific antigen test.

Ron used his diagnosis to help drive forwards SBitTC’s Cancer Support Group (supported by Macmillan Cancer Support), taking on the personal responsibility for encouraging other men to access PSA testing.

His likeable, mild-mannered and positive attitude endeared him both with SBitC staff and participants at sessions and his determination and verve for life whilst undergoing treatment was highly inspirational.

He said: “I believe walking football saved my life; if I hadn’t been playing I wouldn’t have completed a PSA test and then had my treatment. It is this that helps inspire me to support other men who are receiving treatment for Cancer.”

Because of Ron’s investments in the programme, he is now a lead coach and patient advocate on the Cancer Support Group and works tirelessly to raise awareness and inspire those with prostate cancer; the vast majority of SBitTC’s walking footballers have undertaken PSA testing and three have been diagnosed with prostate cancer as a result.

He continued: “It’s fantastic to have an opportunity to give something back to the community and what better way than through the football club I’ve supported all my life.”


Nathan Isom, Health Manager at Sky Blues in the Community said: “Ron has been so inspiring and has done all of this whilst undergoing treatment for his Prostate Cancer; his experience of the treatment process enables him to support other men living with cancer.

“We work to positively change lives of local people across Coventry and Warwickshire and, alongside our dedicated team, volunteers like Ron support us to do exactly that.”