Former Latics team doctor and Extra Time Hub member Satish talks about the benefits the programme has provided him.

For local retired GP Satish Ahuja, Wigan Athletic has played a big part in his life from his role as club doctor between to now enjoying regular activities with the Extra Time Hub initiative.

Funded by the National Lottery and Sport England and backed by the EFL Trust, Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s Extra Time Hub aims to make a positive difference to the lives of retired and semi-retired people.

And for Satish, 84, the programme has been extremely beneficial to him and one he has really enjoyed.

He said: “I saw the advert for it in a local newspaper and I don’t live far from the stadium either.

“The main reason for coming was loneliness, I do have friends but I live on my own after my wife passed away and I thought I would come along to Extra Time.

“It was the first time I thought to myself to come as normally my friends would ask me to come here or there.

“I really enjoy coming, we are looked after every week by the staff you meet new people and also try different activities.

“We visited Fleetwood Market last year as a group which was an enjoyable trip. The sessions offer you the chance to make friendships and develop future friendships too.

“It’s very important for people to be able to meet each other, talk to each other and help each other and these sessions provide that.”

Having worked as a GP in Wigan for most of his life, Satish spent five years with Latics from 1978-1983 as the club doctor and a period he fondly remembers.

He said: “I was a GP in Wigan town centre and I was approached to be the doctor at Wigan Athletic through a friend and this was how my involvement began.

“At the time they had just been promoted to Division Four, Ian McNeil was the manager with Arthur Horrocks as Chairman.

“I was quite busy in general practice so I didn’t go to many matches but those I would go to would be on Saturday and then Wednesday evening. I really enjoyed my time there.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Latics ran two weekly Extra Time Hub sessions with over 70 members enjoying activities including quizzes, table tennis and badminton.  During lockdown staff have been in regular contact with members through a number of ways and have also delivered over 60 goody bags containing a number of things to keep them physically and mentally active.


Bob find inspiration to ‘Shape Up’ at Watford Football Club

Bob, aged 61 was overweight – in fact, he says ‘morbidly obese according to the internet’. When Bob’s wife died, he thought it was important for him to do something about it, as she’d always asked him to.

‘Shape Up’ is a free 12-week weight management course for men at Watford Football Club. The course is aimed at men aged 18 to 65 years-old with a high BMI.

Participants meet up weekly for a ninety-minute session comprising of a forty-five-minute educational segment and a forty-five-minute physical activity session. These two segments are delivered with the aim of improving participant’s healthy lifestyle knowledge to ensure a sustainable weight loss rather than the typically short-term benefit of a diet-based programme.

 Bob found that the coaching team’s teaching about nutrition and the psychology of peer pressure and your attitude to food was really valuable.

 Bob stopped drinking beer, cut back on pasta and bread and ate lots of fresh veg and salads. He switched from sugary cereals to porridge and gave up his sugar in his coffee.  With the encouragement he found that he was able to stop eating sweets, crisps and general junk. He also felt inspired to begin exercising and now does activity 6 days a week, for 30 minutes.

The impact on Bob’s life has been significant. He’s now lost 11.4Kg and buys better food: mostly healthy lean meats, veggies and salads. He has seen a big drop in his blood pressure – now 130/80 – cholesterol and his resting heart rate according to his GP.

Bob has also found that he’s have stopped snoring. He loves being slimmer and is enjoying compliments from friends and family!

Bob remarried and is proud to say that his weight has remained fairly static….even through the COVID-19 lockdown! He says,

“This has genuinely been a complete life change.”

To find out more about how Watford are helping men like Bob, visit

100’s of Gnomes and Rotherham United Tackle John’s Loneliness.

Rotherham United have worked in partnership with hundreds of gnomes to tackle loneliness in their local community.

 John Swift (81 years) was having a tough time at the start of the year.  His health was declining and he was struggling to find motivation to do anything. With the addition of the COVID-19 lockdown, his daughter Jennie was concerned about the amount of time he was spending alone.  She set about getting him some challenges to focus on which included being part of the EFL Trust’s Tackling Loneliness Together Programme and gnome making!

As part of the Tackling Loneliness Together Programme, John has had a weekly visit from Rotherham United Community Sports Trusts Health Coordinator, Ryan Canadine. Ryan said,

“Visiting John is the highlight of my week…we spend time chatting in the garden and he tells me all about the history of Treeton where he lives.   We go for local walks, blackberry picking and the best bit is we get to work on John’s famous gnomes.”

John’s daughter Jennie said,

“My Dad had never done crafts before but he loves his garden so painting the gnomes was initially something for him to do at the start of the lockdown when my mum, his wife, went to Wales to stay with my sister. However, the hobby soon extended to bird boxes, frogs, pumpkins and zombie gnomes for Halloween.”

The gnomes have become a popular conversation point in the community with a variety of them lining the front of the Community Trust’s astro facility. Ryan continues,

“Not only have they given John a focus they have brought a smile to all the participants who visit the facility too. I’m really pleased to see how much he has progressed.”

John who was previously a Councillor for Treeton knows all about helping the community and has even secured a stall at Treeton Newsagents selling his gnomes.  Money from the sales will be donated to the Mayors Charities which include Rotherham United Community Sports Trust, Shiloh Rotherham and Rotherham Hospice.  As a former player of Rotherham Boys John has a real interest in RUFC and is keen to support the Trust through his volunteering.

Jennie concludes,

“I can’t believe how my dad has turned his life around with the help of the Rotherham United Community Sports Trust. Dad really looks forward to his weekly visits with Ryan – going for walks, talking about football, and sharing his love of gnomes. Unfortunately the COVID lockdown has had a huge impact on people living alone and a friendly face calling in each week is a life saver. Thank you so much to Emma, Ryan, and the rest of the team.”


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Faith, Race and Hate Crime Grants scheme announces £287,000 grant to EFL Trust Club Community Organisations

The EFL Trust are delighted to announce that ‘Communities United’ will be one of 9 projects that will be funded as part of the government’s Faith, Race and Hate Crime Grants scheme.

The scheme supports organisations that tackle discrimination and champion social cohesion and will be delivered by 6 EFL Trust Club Community Organisations in the North West: Oldham Athletic, Rochdale, Salford City, Preston North End, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers.

The Faith, Race and Hate Crime Grants scheme invited established community groups and civil society organisations across England to apply for funding for projects that champion the government’s commitment to building a diverse and tolerant society for all faiths and races.

A grant of £287,000 will be given to the EFL Trust’s ‘Communities United’ project. The project will bring families from different backgrounds together, increasing understanding and awareness of social and cultural differences, challenging stereotypes and uniting them through common interests and social action.

The grants will address existing community issues, as well as pressures increased by the pandemic, such as isolation.

Faith Minister Lord Greenhalgh said:

“In this country we believe in freedom within the rule of law. We are all free to love and not to hate. This government will not tolerate hate towards anyone because of who they are.

We stand full square in support of all communities that suffer from prejudice and discrimination and we must build a shared future in this country.

The pandemic has hit faith communities hard with the closure of communal worship during the two lockdowns. This funding is part of our comprehensive support for them. Our faith communities instinctively love their neighbours.”

social integration

As part of a previous community integration project funded by EFL Trust, Blackburn Rovers Community Trust took young people from their local community to visit the Peace Walls in Belfast which were built to minimise violence between two distinct communities. Discussion around these helped facilitate wider discussion around diversity and acceptance.

Head of Community and Participation at the EFL Trust, Loo Brackpool said:

“It is of great importance for the EFL Trust and our Club Community Organisations to be part of this vital project and use the power of the club badge to unite people by demonstrating common interests, increasing understanding and bridging differences.

“We will be working with family groups to help facilitate understanding across generations, as well between those from different backgrounds, cultures and faith groups. EFL Clubs and CCOs have endured as a positive force in their communities through the years and their collective efforts in response to the pandemic have underlined their vital importance in our towns and cities. Despite the uncertainty of COVID restrictions, we will find ways to deliver this project and use the learning to inform other areas of our existing community activities nationwide.”

Latics Tackle Loneliness This Christmas

Wigan Athletic Community Trust have launched a brand new initiative to tackle loneliness across the Wigan Borough this Christmas.

During the festive period, the club’s official charity will be delivering Christmas support packages to people at risk of isolation as part of the Tackling Loneliness Together programme and a £5 donation from Latics supporters will significantly help the cause and ensure we can deliver to more people over the festive period.

Contributions from supporters will assist the Community Trust in providing a number of items within the bags including Christmas puddings, crafts and other festive gifts.

Tom Flower, Head of Community at Wigan Athletic, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had such an impact on the lives of many older people in our community; it has meant they have become even more isolated, which has had an adverse effect on their mental health.

“For people living on their own, Christmas can be a very difficult time and one made even harder during these uncertain times.

“Through the delivery of our festive bags we aim to make what may be a challenging time, a much more joyful occasion and any donations from supporters will certainly help us to do this.”

Latics are one of 31 EFL clubs involved in the programme launched by the EFL Trust and supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) during the summer to tackle loneliness among older people.

Christine Blundell, who has been working on the nprogramme for the Community Trust says the packages will provide much needed festive spirit for those that receive them.

“The packages will contain plenty of festive gifts including a Christmas pudding, tree decorations, crafts and also letters and pictures from local primary school pupils,” Christine said.

“We have seen through the programme how much of an impact a phone call or chat over the fence can have, so to provide these packages at a crucial time of the year will make a real difference.”

As part of the programme, staff have been providing a number of services to ensure those most vulnerable continue to feel connected to their local community, including virtual coffee mornings, walking groups, phone calls and socially distanced garden gate visits.

So far over 1,000 phone calls have been made to residents and supporters to check in and offer any further support whilst over 70 socially distanced garden gate visits have taken place.

Teresa Dexter, who has benefitted from both phone calls and visits from staff, said: “The support during lockdown has been very, very welcome with the visits and the phone calls.

“It’s been nice as I live alone and we haven’t been able to see much of our families. It was nice to know someone was coming and that someone cared enough to come and chat or phone just for ten minutes. It gave me something to look forward to.”

Visit Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s website for more information.

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Derby County Host Virtual Visit from Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden

Derby County Community Trust were delighted to host Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on a virtual visit to their ‘Stay Safe. Stay Fit. Stay Connected.’ project on Wednesday evening. The MP was interested in finding out more about the initiative which has adapted a city-wide approach to tackling the issues which have been exemplified by the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the call were members of staff from the Derby County Community Trust, Leon Taylor – a trustee and volunteer at the Trust, Paul Brookhouse – Project Manager, Derby Food 4 Thought Alliance and Caroline Spalding – Assistant Headteacher at The Bemrose School.

The project was initiated by Derby County Football Club’s players and manager, who recognised the role that a football has to support its community, particularly during a crisis. The expertise of staff at the Community Trust, who have long-established links with a raft of organisations in Derby, were used to establish the demand for services in the city.

The obvious need for increased supply to the food network became the starting point of the project, which has operated a donation hub at Pride Park Stadium since April. This partnership attracted further investment from The National Lottery Community Fund, through which the Secretary of State found out more about the initiative.

The visit involved a tour of the food network hub in Derby to show how organisations have come together to source and supply food packages to those in need.  m supermarkets donating surplus stock to places of worship providing premises to store goods, to the volunteer network who were recruited through the Stay Safe, Stay Fit, Stay Connected project to deliver the parcels, every part of the initiative has exemplified how effective partnership work is.

Leon Taylor, who volunteered every week during lockdown, said:

“Throughout the initial lockdown I volunteered at the food hub and delivered food parcels. It was amazing to see how many people the project and the Trust were helping.”

Another element of the project which the Secretary of State was keen to learn more about was its youth mental health support, a particular concern for vulnerable pupils.

Caroline Spalding outlined some of the work that the Trust were able to deliver within her school, which is situated within a high area of social deprivation. She said:

“Derby County were able to come in and deliver very tailored, specific wellbeing sessions alongside our academic approach. 100% of pupils said it helped them get back into routine, and their grades and attendance have continued to rise as a result of the programme. I genuinely think the impact of Derby County coming in has been totally different to us delivering these projects ourselves.”

The visit culminated with some discussion on future plans and the project’s legacy beyond the pandemic. In response to the second lockdown, the weekly food donation hub at Pride Park Stadium has been reinstated and will be open every Thursday from 11.00am-2.00pm.  Donations will continue to support the project’s vital work in keeping the city safe, fit and connected.

Alongside increased provision in schools around wellbeing and a full virtual timetable with activities for all ages, the Derby County Community Trust were proud to highlight the vital work that has come to fruition as a result of the pandemic.

The Secretary of State visit highlighted that the unique approach to the work undertaken by the Trust across Derby has not gone unnoticed and the initiative will strive to address issues which arise during the second lockdown and beyond.


Football Clubs and their Community Organisations quick to respond to Community needs during new restrictions

As we are all adapting to the new restrictions and our ever changing world, Clubs and their Club Community Organisations (CCOs) are there, once again, proving that they can, and will, make a significant difference in their communities. They are back to using Zoom, Teams and other digital platforms to keep people in their communities engaged, educated and most importantly connected.

Within hours of the new restrictions coming into place last week, Preston North End Community Trust immediately began supporting isolated people by delivering postal packs containing exercise sheets, support services and community offers.

At Luton Town Football Club, delivering books has been a major part of a key initiative tackle loneliness in EFL Communities. The Club’s Community Organisation have commented: “It’s been a pleasure meeting members of the community who are unable to leave the home at the moment and provide them with library books and a quick chat!”

Keeping people of all ages connected at this difficult time will be at the forefront of many of the Football Club’s charities during the new lockdown period. Tigers Trust, Hull City’s Community Organisation, are running ‘Tigers Team Mates,’ where staff will be on hand to help with calls, wellbeing walks, food shopping & garden gate conversations. Bolton Wanderers  Football Club’s CCO are also offering 1 to 1 walks for older members of our community, with all walks adhering to the current government guidance.

Based on findings after the first lockdown, our Clubs want to encourage people to exercise as much as possible. To encourage families to get moving, Oldham Athletic set a challenge this weekend – to find mascot ‘Chaddy the Owl’ around three local parks and be in with the chance of winning a signed Oldham Athletic shirt for getting involved!

And for those people dedicated to improving their lifestyle during 2020, over the last few days, many exercise course that are run face to face in stadia, like Doncaster Rover’s Fit Fans, have gone back online and have featured special guests like Doncaster’s stand in weekend manager, Andy Butler!

Many CCOs were commended for their work during the first UK wide lockdown and are ready to be there for their communities again. One club that was very quick to respond in March and has already repeated this is Stevenage. Their COVID support line is back up and running as of yesterday and allows anyone in the community with a concern to get in touch….whether they need prescription collections, help getting food, or they just want someone to talk to….the Club will be there for them.

To find out more about our impact in communities visit