The past few weeks have brought new challenges for everyone, since the coronavirus pandemic hit, but for Club Community Organisations (CCOs) it poses a significant question…
How can they continue their work which serves some of the most vulnerable members of society at a time of great uncertainty for their own organisation?
Ash Hackett, who is Chief Executive at Blackpool FC Community Trust, explains.
“The vast majority of our funding partners have been fantastic and told us to use the funding however we need to in order to continue to support our community. Yet we still have to account for a loss of income from activities where people pay to turn up, such as holiday clubs. However, we have strong governance and reserve funds in place to help us through this very difficult period if it becomes necessary.”
Hackett says that even during these uncertain times for the organisation, it’s still the people in the communities they serve that remain their number one priority.
He adds: “We thought about whether the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is appropriate for us. However the most important point for us is ensuring we have enough staff to continue to support our community.”
CCOs across the country have been looking at innovative ways of how they can continue delivering their existing programmes, as well as finding new ways to serve their community.
Hackett explains what they’ve been doing at Blackpool: “My team have been absolutely amazing in doing this. Every staff member has continued to work from home, developing a host of ways to stay in contact with our participants and partner organisations.
“Our education and employability teams have developed virtual classrooms to continue to educate our students and maintain some regularity for them. This means our BTEC Sports College Students, Degree Students and Traineeship participants continue to turn up for classes each day and complete their normal work just from home.
“Some don’t have laptops, so we have sent them home with ours and some don’t have Wi-Fi in their homes so we are sending paper based assignments for them to complete and we are calling them to talk through the subjects, whilst we investigate if we can get them online in their houses.
“Our school delivery teams have continued to support educational establishments that are open for key workers and are short staffed, by going in and being an extra body to deliver some PE and other fun activities. Our secondary schools team have been putting challenges and ideas together to support teenagers’ resilience and mental wellbeing. “
The members of the CCO team not involved in this delivery have been hard at work collating schemes of work, creating and undertaking challenges and thinking of games for schools and families to follow in isolation.
Hackett adds: “We have competitions coming up over the next few weeks including our #BlackpoolRhyme competition, running throughout April, for everyone to tell us what they love about Blackpool in the form of a poem.”
CCOs work with some of the most vulnerable members of the community and ensuring that they are not affected by the current situation is a key priority, as Hackett outlines.
“We have set up call centres for participants to engage with us, if they need a chat, some help or information about other organisations they may need to talk to,” he says.
“We are also in regular contact with our more socially isolated participants, to see if they need any help or support. It’s really important we consider everybody’s mental health during this period and this is one way we can help with this.”
Alongside many other CCOs during this difficult time, Blackpool FC Community Trust has also received a host of calls for additional help that are outside their normal operations. One of those being the call from Blackpool Council to set up a community hub.
“We will host one of twelve hubs that will distribute food parcels to the most vulnerable residents that are isolated for 12 weeks. Our team will coordinate the Bloomfield Ward and deliver the parcels to people’s doorsteps.”