Bristol Rovers set football aside for the community

There is no surprise that Bristol Rovers Community Trust was handed the title ‘Bristol Life Award Winner’ back in 2018, due to its fantastic work in the community. Since that award, they have gone from strength to strength over the years, and have once again made it their duty to go that extra mile.

No-one could have predicted the effect that the coronavirus would have had on the world in the first place, but when times are hard everyone pulls together and Chief Executive of the Bristol Rovers Community Trust, Adam Tutton, has one simple message: ‘this is more than football’.  

“I am a born and bred Bristolian; this means a lot and it is in instances like this where people need to step up and be counted,” he said. 

“I am lucky enough to work with a lot of people who are like that, and what I think this is showing is that Community Trusts are more than just football. These are the times where Community Trusts need to stand up and be counted.  

“In terms of the stuff ourselves and the club are doing, we have suggested that we have a look at season ticket holders that are 70 and above, as well as our extra-time club that is open to over 60s and what we are doing for all of those, we are making up food parcels which will have essentials in, and everyone will get a Rovers scarf as well, which will hopefully give them a bit of a smile.  

“The Community Trust will deliver those to the people’s front doors in the coming weeks; I am a community man at heart, and this means more to me than the football does if I am being honest. One of the schools we have been helping out is about 500 meters away from Bristol City’s Ashton Gate, so it makes absolutely no difference.”  

As well as setting out an action plan for the older supporters of the football club, the Community Trust has also been helping the younger generation of its community, bagging up dinners for those who are eligible for free ones when they are at school, and with that they have also been delivering resources that will help the children while they are being home-schooled.  

“We have had a lot of schools contact us to help them distribute free school meals; the first school we went to had 170 students who had free school meals. The school had all of this food and they needed to get it out, so we helped bag them up and take them out to the students,” he added.  

“We’ve been doing a lot of delivering resources such as pens, pencils, drawing papers; literally anything that we could fit into the back of the minibus. It’s like a school away from school, really, so that has been one of the main focuses for us at the moment.”  

Conversations are still ongoing between the Trust and Bristol City Council, who Adam contacted towards the start of last week to offer out their services, and he is keen to help in whatever way he can to those organisations that need it.  

“We have quite close links with the Bristol City Council in terms of the Community Trust, so I contacted them and basically offered our services out to them in any capacity that was needed, really. I was trying to put us at the forefront of a city-wide approach to what is going on,” he said.  

“From that, we got a phone call from the Director of People Services from the Council and they linked us up with a few charities in the first instance. We went heavy on social media saying that we were out to help, on the back of that. 

 “So we are still waiting on that call from the local authorities as well as the NHS who have approached us also. I said to them that we will literally help them with anything, whether it is giving nurses a lift to and from the hospital; literally anything that we can do, we will.” 

Autism Awareness Week: Hannah’s story

This week is Autism Awareness Week. We kick off the week with a great story from Fulham FC Foundation…

Hannah, who has Autism, has not only built up her self-esteem and confidence with Fulham FC Foundation but is also well on her way of achieving her dreams of becoming a fully qualified football coach.

The 28 year-old first started with Fulham FC Foundation as a volunteer just over six years ago. At the time, the Foundation was looking for volunteers to help on the Active Autism Programme. Despite having no prior experience working with children, and being nervous about the changes to her schedule, Hannah stepped up to take on the role.

She said: “When I first started to volunteer, of course I was scared and nervous at the same time, as I didn’t know how the children would be with having a new face around. After a few months I got used to it and so did the kids.”

Hannah became a regular, reliable face at Active Autism sessions, and after a few years of coaching, Hannah was given the opportunity to complete her Level 1 in Football Coaching.

Reflecting on the opportunity, Hannah commented: “When I got told that I was able to do the Level 1 in Football Coaching course I was over the moon, scared and nervous as I thought I wasn’t going to get through it and pass… but I did!”

Participants attending Hannah’s sessions have developed immensely in the time that she’s been coaching. The chance to take part in sessions that are tailored to their needs means a great deal to the participants, as well as the coaches.

For Hannah this became something very personal, helping her to develop her own skills as a coach and build her self-esteem and self-confidence.

She added: “Being involved with these sessions means so much to me, as they boost up my confidence, which I didn’t have much before.

“This also gives me a chance to achieve my dream to become a fully qualified football coach and work with kids with special needs.”

Ahead of the 2018/19 season, Hannah completed a Coach Assessment to become an Assistant Coach at the Foundation. Since September, she’s become a staple in delivering disability provision in SEN and mainstream schools, as well as supporting Pan Disability Football Hubs.

“Now that I have been given the chance to have my work increased, it is very exciting and somewhat scary at times,” she explained. “I work in a mainstream school as an assistant coach, but I’m used to working with children with additional needs.

“I believe that the more sessions I do, the more confident I will get. In the future, I would like to be able to proceed onto the Level 2 course and also be able to run my own sessions without any help, but that that will take time.”


Richard’s story – ShrewsAbility

Steve Hammond, father of Richard, has spoken of the amazing opportunities his son has explored through Shrewsbury Town in the Community’s ShrewsAbility.

Through the Every Player Counts programme funded by Wembley National Stadium Trust and EFL Trust, the ShrewsAbility Down’s syndrome football scheme creates a multi-tier learning environment that improves the participants’ overall physical, social and emotional health.

Richard Hammond has been a regular ShrewsAbility member since the sessions first launched in 2016.

 “Before taking part, Richard struggled to trap or strike a ball properly. It’s amazing to see the difference and how much he has developed, he’s so comfortable at doing these things now and has built his intelligence of the game.

“I feel so happy and grateful to see my son enjoy playing football just like I did when I was younger.

“Not only has he enhanced his football skills, he’s also formed new friendships and his self-esteem has improved.

“These sessions make you look at what everyone is able to do and not what they can’t – you see people’s abilities, not their disability.”

Apart from football, Richard is also an avid gymnast and swimmer and in 2011 he represented Team GB at the Special Olympics in Athens, winning two Silver Medals and one Bronze Medal in artistic gymnastics.

Since ShrewsAbility launched, the session has had an aggregate attendance of 464 participants across all disability sessions.

95% of participants have stated that there has been an improvement in their mental well being since attending the sessions.

William’s story – Charlton Upbeats

The Charlton Upbeats programme uses football to help aid and support young people with Down’s syndrome. The Upbeats have competed in a number of tournaments in the UK and abroad and are nine-times DS Active National champions.

100% of parents would recommend the Charlton Upbeats to any family with children with Down’s syndrome.

The project is focused not just on football, but is also about raising aspirations and improving relationships and social skills.

William Cottrell, one of over 170 young people registered with the Charlton Upbeats project, has been a member since it first started in 2008.

Since then, his sporting career has gone from strength to strength…and not just on the football field.

Thanks to the confidence William has developed with Upbeats, in 2009, he represented Great Britain in the Special Olympics Winter Games in Idaho, where he won a bronze medal in Skiing.

A decade later, he was one of eight British athletes to be selected to represent his country in golf at the 2019 Special World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.

On March 20th 2019, to a roar of applause William stepped proudly onto the podium to receive his silver Special Olympics medal in golf.

His Mum, Elizabeth said: “It is a well well-earned prize, not only for the performance over the previous days’ competition but for the hours of practise, the refining of skill and the determination to always do his best.”

“Football has the ability to change lives” – Scott Minto

The annual EFL Day of Action takes place on Tuesday, as all EFL Clubs come together on one day to demonstrate the impact football can have in positively changing people’s lives. Read more

International Women’s Day: 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.”


#InternationalWomensDay, 8th March 2020




EFL Day of Action to celebrate impact of Clubs in their communities

EFL Clubs will come together on Tuesday 10 March to highlight the positive impact football has in changing people’s lives and the work taking place to tackle some of society’s biggest issues.

Across the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two, events will be held by Clubs on EFL Day of Action to showcase the very best programmes and activity they deliver in a number of important areas, including diversity and inclusion, education, and health and wellbeing.

The impact of the work carried out by EFL Clubs and Club Community Organisations (CCOs) is unparalleled, with more than half a million hours of group activity delivered and over 40 million hours of participation each season.

During the 2018/19 season, almost 900,000 people took part in a wide range of activities across key areas, with Clubs and CCOs receiving over £60 million of direct project funding.

The EFL Day of Action aims to unite Clubs and CCOs on one day to celebrate and highlight the impact they have in their communities, bringing together the most unique projects and programmes being run across England and Wales.

Managers and players from the EFL’s Clubs will be attending events up and down the country on Tuesday to pay special visits to see participants in action and to provide their support to various projects.

For example:

  • In the Sky Bet Championship, Cardiff City will host participants of their Bluebirds Ability programme at their first team training session. Bluebirds ability sessions support children and young people with a disability through football activities.
  • QPR’s Angel Rangel will join a food delivery to local hostels and homeless shelters with Club partner City Harvest, who use surplus food from various London locations and provide for those in need.
  • To celebrate the success of the EFL Trust’s Fit Fans programme, Doncaster Rovers, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United and Bradford City will all come together at the Keepmoat Stadium to host a football festival with over 40 participants.
  • In Sky Bet League One, Bristol Rovers will showcase their partnership with St Peters Hospice Charity, which offers the Club the ability to engage with patients suffering with various forms of cancer.
  • In Sky Bet League Two, Port Vale are hosting a full day of activities, showcasing their impact on people in their community including breakfast clubs, careers events, mental health groups and walking football.

Five EFL fixtures will also take place on the evening of the EFL Day of Action, with Clubs further supporting the day with warm-up t-shirts and in-stadium assets.

These are just a few examples of some of the fantastic work due to take place during the EFL’s Day of Action by EFL Club Community Organisations – the largest network of sporting charities in the UK.

EFL Chairman, Rick Parry, said: “Our Clubs have always had a unique position in the heart of their respective towns and cities and it is important that we celebrate the work they carry out, which improves lives and tackles some of society’s biggest issues on a daily basis. 

“The recent study commissioned by the EFL shows that Clubs’ work in their communities is happening on a huge scale and starts to place a real value on this work, providing further insight into the impact of programmes provided.

“The hours committed by staff and volunteers at Clubs and CCOs, as well as the support from players and managers, demonstrates a remarkable commitment to improving lives up and down the country.”

See the results of the Measuring the Impact of Clubs the Community study HERE.


Vulnerable young people in Wigan given a boost thanks to new National Lottery grant awarded to Wigan Athletic Community Trust

WAFC Community Trust at the Youth Zone in Wigan.
Photo by Fabio De Paola

Fresh from being named the EFL North West Community Club of the Year 2020, Wigan Athletic Community Trust has received more positive news this week thanks to a new grant from The National Lottery Community Fund.

The Community Trust has been awarded £392,457 to extend the Pathway 2 Participation programme for an additional three years, and provide mentoring support to some of the most vulnerable young people in Wigan.

The programme, which will be delivered in partnership with Wigan Youth Zone, will build on the work of the Pathway 2 Participation programme over the last four years where it has helped 100s of young people to improve their health, mental well-being and confidence through mentoring and sports activities.

Tom Flower, Head of Community at Wigan Athletic, said: “We are extremely delighted and grateful to receive the funding from The National Lottery Community Fund.

“The investment will enable us to help hundreds of young people in the borough; enhancing their life chances and giving them the opportunity to achieve their full potential, whether that is through sport or education activities.”

Pathway 2 Participation has been operating in Wigan since 2015 and with the support of Wigan Council’s Deal for Communities Investment Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund Reaching Communities scheme has helped 100’s of young people to take part in activities in their local communities, re-enter education and even find employment.

With the support of The National Lottery Community Fund and Wigan Council, the programme has seen participants enjoy a number of activities including mountain biking, team building exercises and water sports sessions.

Project evaluation carried out in 2019 showed that 82% of young people who completed the programme said they felt happier about their life while 97% of participants said involvement had helped to increase their confidence and self – esteem.

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

Duncan Nicholson, Head of Funding for North West region at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players we are able to support young people through Pathway 2 Participation.

“The project is a great way to get young people the mentoring support they need to help boost their confidence and improve their mental well-being.”

MP for Wigan Lisa Nandy said: “I’m delighted that Wigan Athletic Community Trust have received this substantial and well-deserved grant from the National Lottery.

“Their track record speaks for itself, and this money will be vital in helping them continue their brilliant work with some of the most vulnerable and marginalised children and young people across Wigan.”

The National Lottery Community Fund is responsible for giving out money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year it awarded over half a billion pounds (508.5 million) and supported over 11,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes.

For more information on the programme please email Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s Senior Community Development Co-ordinator Steve Eastwood on [email protected] or call 01942 318090.