EFL Clubs and Community Organisations responded throughout 2020 to the needs of the people in their Communities….

2020 has been by far the most challenging year of recent times, however we are extremely proud of our network who have adapted and overcome these challenges working tirelessly to serve their local communities.

EFL Clubs and their respective Club Community Organisations (CCOs) have always been, and remain, at the heart of their communities, and their importance to the daily lives of so many people cannot be underestimated. That has been reflected in the outstanding collective efforts that have been made in supporting the response to coronavirus so far.

In the midst of the unprecedented and, quite clearly, challenging set of circumstances brought about by the outbreak of COVID-19, Clubs came together to collectively show that even when there are no fixtures, Football remains at the heart of the community and never went away.

With 36.6million people in England and Wales living within a 10-mile radius of an EFL Club – a radius that encompasses four in 10 residents who fall into the most-deprived population groups – never has this work been more important.

During the original and subsequent lock down periods, Club Community Organisations were quick to co-ordinate activities with their local authorities, with vulnerable community members and safety at the forefront of their thinking and response.

Over 690, 000 food parcels and hot meals have been delivered across the network.

As one-to-one contact moved online or to via telephone and as local authorities turned to CCOs for support, over 246,000 incoming and outgoing calls were made for fans, the elderly or vulnerable by EFL Clubs.

And as the Government called on the public to ease the burden on the National Health Service, at least 30 Clubs opened their doors to key workers, offering space and facilities in stadia for testing and accommodation.

Last week, Burton Albion have again opened their doors for the first round of vaccinations in East Staffordshire, with the same people receiving a second dose in January. In addition, Clubs have delivered over 30,000 items of PPE equipment and over 6,000 prescriptions.

In the absence of fixtures and training sessions, football’s players put their role-model status to good use, and made an incredible impact in their respective local communities. Instead of delivering goals, some delivered food parcels, while others made vital phone calls instead of tackles, all for the benefit of those most vulnerable members of society.

The adaptation of our CCOs has been phenomenal and will continue to evolve to meet the needs of our EFL communities. From the outset of our response, the safety of our communities and our Clubs has remained paramount and adherence to Government advice has been at the heart of our delivery.

EFL Clubs and CCOs are delivering outstanding work across the country every hour of every day and will continue to do so as we move into 2021.

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Blackpool Making Sure No-One is Lonely this Christmas

When Nathan Davies from Blackpool FC Community Trust discovered Alan, a gentleman in his 70’s, was going to be alone on Christmas Day he was not prepared to let that happen.

Nathan had been visiting Alan as part of EFL Trust’s Tackling Loneliness Together Programme and had got to know him well.

Nathan commented.

“I was chatting to Alan about Christmas and he said he’d be alone on Christmas day and he told me he’d posted himself a card so that he’s have something to open.”

Taken aback by this candid admission Nathan quietly scheduled a garden gate visit on Christmas Day, on a purely voluntary basis. He also set about arranging a number of things to brighten Alan’s day. However as Nathan explains, things started to escalate.

“I was chatting to a colleague and telling him what I had planned. However, I hadn’t realised people were listening in and suddenly there’s a big clamour in the office because so many other staff who’d been involved in the programme wanted to do the same thing.”

With so many staff eager to volunteer the Trust was be able to identify 14 other vulnerable people who would be alone on Christmas Day and arrange to make a visit and bring them some cards and goodies.

Nathan continued.

“We were able to get three local primary schools to write cards for them, we put together a gift hamper and also included the first edition of our magazine ‘Tangerine Times’  which is full of puzzles, articles and has some tips for exercise.”

The Tackling Loneliness Together project was set up this year by the EFL Trust thanks to a grant of £810,000 from the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). The grant supports 32 EFL Club Community Organisations in locations across the country who have so far reached over 31,000 people.

Nathan described why he thinks this project has had such an impact,

“I was obviously aware loneliness is a big problem for society but it only when you meet someone who is lonely that it hits home what that actually means. This has been the most rewarding project I’ve been involved, so far, in because you can see the difference almost immediately”

“Alan is the perfect example, he had been be alone for a while and has no family nearby. With his advancing years it’s just so easy for him be isolated and not feel able to escape the situation. However, the change we can make to his life, very quickly is quite remarkable.

“We found out he’s a fan of formula one so we’ve been chatting about that and setting quizzes for him. He wasn’t interested in football before we met but now he’s checking in on Blackpool’s result and we’ll often talk about the weekend results. Hopefully we be able to get him Bloomfield Road in the New Year.”

The Bees’ Knees

Much like the insect from which the club takes its nickname, Brentford’s impressive new home is a hive of activity, and its inhabitants’ collaborative work is part of something far bigger during uncertain times. Brentford is a club that is going places, quite literally.

Within a whisker of the top-flight in the summer, the West Londoners have certainly impressed on the pitch in recent times.

Away from it, they’ve begun a new era in modern surroundings, all while making a conscious effort to remain the heartbeat of the local area.

Just a stone’s throw from the famous Griffin Park base which had previously played host to fixtures for well over a century, the Bees’ new nest quite literally has community in its name, something which has become an increasingly integral part of the Brentford Football Club philosophy.

The aptly-titled ‘Brentford Community Stadium’ can hold 17,250 fans, including 2,930 in premium seats; it’s just 100 metres from Kew Bridge Station and has five premium lounges. Griffin Park’s red and white goal nets are still in place, as are the bricks from the Stable Block in the new North Stand. But it’s the detail beyond the stadium footprint which is the most striking.

The move will create hundreds of new jobs and homes, a state-of-the-art public square and purpose-built educational hub, which will benefit the area and its people for years to come.

Having first become involved over 30 years ago, Lee Doyle – current Chief Executive at Brentford FC Community Sports Trust – has envisaged this for quite some time. The link between club and Trust is stronger than ever, with the new stadium development evidence enough that it looks continue to grow.

“It gives you goosebumps, actually, seeing it come together,” he says, speaking to us in an exclusive interview. His work has helped see the club crowned Community Club of the Year on no fewer than four occasions.

“When you see the new stadium and badge glowing into the night, it’s an absolute gift. We want to become a destination, and it’s all coming together. We’re extremely excited by it all.”

Like many Clubs up and down the country, Brentford’s wider responsibility and influence as a result of its community work is undeniable, with local outreach arguably more important than ever in the current climate.

Doyle and the Trust have been involved in the stadium planning from the very outset, with the build set to expand the Trust’s efforts and, ultimately, give it a new headquarters.

“We’ve gone from having fewer than 10 people not so long ago to now having nearly 100 staff and volunteers,” he adds. “We’ve been working for a long time with this vision in mind and expanded to such an extent in the old ground that we ended up having to move out. It’s all part of a bigger picture for us; we’ve now got a base adjacent to the stadium, a two-floor building with a social, education and health hub on the bottom and offices above.

“The location is quite remarkable, it’s extremely well positioned and has a real heart and soul already. It’s been designed and shaped to be vibrant and I think it’s given people a lot of hope.

“The wider footprint of that is Gunnersbury Park, an amazing £14million facility that we’re a strategic partner in; we’ve got a partnership with the University of West London and we’ve even created a boating hub! It’s all about using local resource and engaging local people.

“The impact on local business, not only within the stadium footprint but beyond, is massive too. When it comes to creating jobs, we want to be a catalyst for opening up opportunities for employment and training, and the Trust has grown significantly in that area.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by the club’s Vice Chairman, Donald Kerr, who also happens to be on the Trust’s Board, another symbol of the close-knit operation.

“It’s a fabulous stadium, in every aspect,” he says, proudly. “The sound system is the best of its kind in a new stadium, the resolution on the screens, the seating and legroom, everything.

“The people who have seen it first-hand have been blown away. The moment they arrived, they all said the same thing; ‘wow’. It’s light years away from Griffin Park, a totally different experience. The opportunities for catering and corporate hospitality… it’s even got toilets, for goodness sake! Griffin Park was a fabulous ground, but it was 116 years old, and the new stadium is 21st century.

“For the Trust to be on site is a huge thing. It means we’re back together again and reminds people that the Trust is part and parcel of the club. At the meeting we had in 2012 in order to get planning permission, we had 15 minutes to present and five minutes of that was taken up by what the club and Trust were doing in the community. We’d had an independent audit of the social impact of the Trust, and we found we were having a huge positive social impact on the local area, with tangible cost savings and so the Trust has been an integral part of the new stadium development. It’s always been seen as the club and Trust being bound together.”

Quite literally a half-way house between Heathrow Airport and London’s West End, there’s a clear feeling that the opportunities presented by the location alone are boundless.

“We live in an area with a lot of blue-chip companies and are going to them as potential partners with a new stadium that you fly over as you come into Heathrow and can see from the M4. It’s an attractive proposition, and we’ve been going to them jointly, as a club and Trust,” he adds.

“There’s a strong belief in the model we have. Going east, there are a lot of Trusts but, going the other way, I don’t think there’s a Trust between us and Wycombe or Reading, so it’s a great area to expand into. The future is bright, really bright. We’re going into it with huge optimism, and we’re doing it together.”

Timing can be everything when it comes to football and, despite the first-ever fixture at the Brentford Community Stadium being played behind closed doors, this is a move which is generating hope, at a time when it’s most needed.

Clubs and communities need their Trusts, and the completion of the Bees’ new home is as big an indicator as any of their importance.

“This is a result of timing and, more than anything, people,” Doyle says in conclusion.

“That’s what’s coming to light now, there’s more awareness and people saying ‘what is the club doing differently and what’s the approach to club and community?’ That thought process, that culture, has really grown.

“If you go back to the roots of this development, a lot of work was done by volunteer supporters. When it came to planning, we said ‘we’re more than a club, we’re invested in our community’ and we could prove that. The question to us was ‘if we build this stadium, could the Trust do more?’ and we said ‘absolutely’, so the whole thing went hand-in-hand.

“When you look at the need of communities coming out of COVID-19, I think we can be part of the solution. Thinking in wider terms, when it comes to club, Trust and stadium partners, we can also be a part of the CSR solution. Awareness and engagement is only going to increase further, and we’ll be at the centre of that.”

‘Firmior’, the Latin word for ‘stronger’, adorns the coat of arms for Brentford and Chiswick. With this development, its local club and Trust are just that, and you can be sure the buzz will continue long into the future.

Charlton focuses on communities learning about and tackling racial inequality and social injustice in 2020 and beyond…

Charlton Athletic Community Trust is committed to raising awareness and recognising the outstanding contributions that black communities have made while providing opportunities for colleagues and its local communities to learn about, and to tackle, racial inequality and social injustice.

Black History Month is an annual celebration of cultural diversity which commemorates the history and achievements of black people and black communities. This year, our network celebrated Black History Month back in October.

As a Trust rooted in the heart of the community, the Trust has a long history of working with local organisations to fight discrimination. For Black History Month this year, an initiative focused a ‘Spotlight’ on Trust staff and Trustees, by asking them what their hopes for black communities are in the future and what the month means to them.

The responses were then created into stories and pushed out across the Club and Trusts’ various platforms.

Staff shared their delight in their CACT roles which allow them to engage with and share life experiences with future generations, and at being able to connect with young people in their community.

Hearing amazing feedback and the success stories that come through the programmes was also highlighted as one of the most fulfilling aspects of the job and the ultimate in career satisfaction.

One of the CACT Trustee’s, Martin Griffiths, a Clinical Director for Violence Reduction in NHS London, shared his views and appreciation; citing working and learning from an amazing array of talented individuals who place the wellbeing and empowerment of the community at its heart.

“Achieving true equality requires hard work and commitment, and for us to be honest with ourselves and each other.”

“I would hope that the next generation live their lives in OUR society rather than thriving in a separate one.”

North West Football Awards shows Preston North End Community and Education Trust is growing from strength to strength

Preston North End Community and Education Trust (PNECET) has a long and proud history of serving its community through football, and the club were at the forefront of the initiative in its humble beginnings that has led the way for others to follow. Preston North End were one of six North West Football Clubs to set up a community programme in 1986. Since then, the Trust has grown from strength to strength and this year has been unprecedented in many ways…

Preston North End Community and Education Trust was proud to deliver 26 different projects across Preston and its surrounding areas, engaging with more than 11,000 people and investing more than £900,000 into the local community last year. Long-running programmes have continued to grow, and newly established Armed Forces, mental health and Sporting Memories programmes have become immediate successes, engaging with new groups of people, with whom the Trust may not have previously engaged with under other initiatives.

Twelve months ago, Tom Drake, who had previously held the role of Assistant Head of Community at the Trust, stepped up into the Head of Community role. Little did Tom know the challenges that 2020 would hold, but the latter, Coronavirus-inflicted months of the 2019/20 season, saw attention turn to providing essential items for vulnerable members of the community and an unprecedented level of adaptability and commitment from his team.

In November, PNECET were awarded the ‘Community Club of the Season – All Other Leagues’ award at the 2020 North West Football Awards….a fitting tribute to the changes made by Drake in the months subsequent to the pandemic and his team’s response to the months that followed.

We met Tom (virtually of course!) to discuss the last twelve months and how PNECET have managed to be there for their community in new ways and for the people who most needed help.

Head of Community Tom Drake says:

“We are absolutely delighted to have been crowned winners of the Community Club of the Season at the 2020 North West Football Awards.

“The Trust has enjoyed a positive year despite the difficult circumstances presented by the current pandemic. While much of our provision has been affected, we have adapted to meet the needs of our community with a range of new and forward-thinking initiatives.

“Our skilled and enthusiastic team have worked incredibly hard over the past 12 months and this award is testament to their dedication to supporting our local community.”

Tom went on to explain how adapting has been key this year:

“We had not previously offered a food provision service but quickly adapted to the community’s needs, to offer a service that delivered essential food, toiletries and engaging club materials, to our programme members, club season ticket holders and the most vulnerable people in Preston.

“Our Helping Hampers campaign saw 1,300 deliveries of essential food parcels made to the elderly and vulnerable in Preston, which was followed by forming the PNECET Community Support Hub that provided a similar food delivery service to those in need, including vulnerable families and school children through the summer holidays.

“We have continued to stay in touch with our regular participants via online meetings and regular welfare calls throughout the pandemic, maintaining those new provisions that had begun earlier in the season.”

Among PNECET’s projects over the 2019/20 season was its continued work with the Foxton Centre, a Preston City Centre charity that works with vulnerable young people, culminating with the Big PNE Sleep Out event, as part of continued efforts to combat homelessness and rough sleeping in the city.

Working with a range of local organisations, the Big PNE Sleep Out asked PNE supporters and members of the Preston community to sleep rough for the night on the concourse at Deepdale, at the height of wintery conditions in mid-November of last year.

Alongside waste management company Biffa, regional news outlet Blog Preston, and the Foxton Centre itself – all of which are either local to, or based within Preston – the Trust organised the Big PNE Sleep Out to take place at Deepdale.

The event encouraged supporters and members of the Preston community to donate towards the Foxton Centre’s Housing First initiative. The event raised almost double the initial £50,000 fundraising target and the outcome of this is now reality, as they have recently bought and are renovating a house for the use of homeless people in Preston.

Tom is now looking to the future and how the team’s work and strategy can continue to create positive impact:

“We are also thankful to all of our local partners, without whom this success would not have been possible, and we are excited to continue utilising the power of the club badge on our programme delivery as we strive to create a safer, stronger and more resilient community.”

Tranmere Rovers Community Trust hosted a socially distanced Christmas gathering for the dementia group.

Tranmere Rovers Community Trust hosted a socially distanced Christmas gathering for the dementia group.

The event was held at Prenton Park, and participants were able to take part in a quiz, bingo and they received a video message from Club captain, Scott Davies, to wish them all a happy holidays. They also took part in a singalong, which is sponsored by AmaSing.

The gathering, which also is aligned to TRIC’s ongoing Tackling Loneliness Together project which is funded by DCMS through the EFL Trust, took place last week with ten participants in attendance and they all received a food hamper from the Club.

Two of those, Silvia, and her husband , Eddie, explained why they loved coming and the positive impact the dementia group has made on their lives.


“We love coming here, the atmosphere on Thursday afternoon was lovely and everyone is so friendly. Shirley from Tranmere Rovers in the Community keeps ringing us to check how we are. They have come round to the house and sat in the garden too. Her, Steve Williams and the rest of the staff have been brilliant. I tell everybody, even my doctor, about Tranmere Rovers because what they do is so lovely. My husband doesn’t understand what is going on at any time, day or night, and if I tell him where we are going, he will ask but if I say we are going to see Shirley, he says ok. It is great company, and we have a great laugh. When I go home, I feel as though I have been out for the day. We go to other groups but it is not the same as here, everyone is just so nice and we get on so well.”

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Report Shows Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s Impact in their Community

Following an unprecedented 12 months, Wigan Athletic Community Trust have today released a report detailing the massive impact they have had in their community. The report details the wide range of activities that the Trust deliver; from helping 117 children aged under 4 to be more school ready to delivering over 3,000 facemasks to care homes and other NHS hubs. From helping men lose weight as part of the FIT LATICS programme to helping previously unemployed young people gain employment.

The report is split into two sections reviewing six months of activity whilst also looking at the work and the impact of the Trust during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the football club collectively showed its value to the community with players and management making calls to supporters and the delivery of essential PPE equipment to care homes. The Community Trust also provided free sports coaching to targeted children, which also included a free lunch.

The Trust works in partnership with Wigan Athletic to Improve Health, Enhance Life Chances and Create Stronger, Safer Communities.

The charity 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, said: “It has certainly been a challenging and difficult 12-month period in the history of Wigan Athletic.

“As the club’s official charity we have continued to serve the people of Wigan and the surrounding area, ensuring critical support to the borough when it was needed more than ever.

“The work we do wouldn’t be possible without the backing of the football club, as well as national and local partners including Wigan Council, the Premier League, PFA and EFL Trust who I’d like to thank for their ongoing support.

“The staff should be very proud of their hard work and for responding and adapting so well to new challenges facing our community and I hope supporters take great pride in reading about the positive impact we have had.”

To view  the Impact Report, please click here.




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