FIT ROBINS allowed City fan Sam to improve his health and wellbeing after contracting COVID-19 twice

Bristol City Robins Foundation has helped Robins fan Sam improve his health and wellbeing in time for the Christmas festivities. 

After contracting Coronavirus twice, Sam’s fitness had been on the decline and he would struggle to climb a set of stairs without coming over breathless.

Sam explained: “I was sick of how I was feeling and was ready to make a change. After reading about the FIT ROBINS program, it seemed to offer a good balance of education and fitness. Unlike other diet programs I have tried in the past, this felt like it would provide me with the tools to make permanent changes rather than temporary ones.”

FIT FANS offers both an educational and physical outlook on a more healthy lifestyle. This balance has enabled Sam to continuously make small changes to his lifestyle that has amounted to huge results.  He now plans in advance to ensure he eats healthier and make better choices with food, finding time to exercise even if that is just a case of parking further away to get in those extra steps.

With the exercise that Sam has been completing, he has seen vast improvements in his physical fitness whilst losing weight along his journey.

Average weight loss statistics for the FIT FANS programme are impressive and exceed those of many other programmes. On average women lose well over 3kg and men over 5.5kg by the end of the 12 weeks. We also have evidence that lifestyle change and weight loss is sustained over the following 12 months. More than 90% of men and 85% of women lose weight during the programme with many losing a clinically significant amount.  Our data shows FIT FANS helps people to increase physical activity, reduce sedentary time, leading to weight loss, a significant reduction in blood pressure and improvement in self-reported mental wellbeing measures.

He said:  “The program also enabled me to make changes that meant I did not need to follow any strict diets or restrict what I could have. Not at any point have I felt deprived on my journey, and I feel confident these changes are something that is sustainable and becomes a part of my everyday life.”

The variation of each session has seen Sam partake in a range of exercise that keeps him engaged from playing football, circuits or even just a walk around the local area. However, a secondary benefit for Sam was the camaraderie that FIT ROBINS provided in  getting to know the other participants and supporting each other on their own journeys.

Sam praised the coaches at the Foundation, he said:  “The coaches offered support throughout the program and although encouraged they never put any pressure on anyone. It was reassuring to know that I could go at my own pace, and they would be there to offer help and advice if required.”

FIT ROBINS Lead Coach Lee Gillett commented on how FIT FANS can be the foundation for change that reaches all generations of families, he said: “It’s really tough for families at this time of year, if we can make a small difference and keep our children active and well feed with freshly cooked, healthy meals we can make a real difference to those young people.”

Spreading Christmas Cheer: Young People from Oldham provide a helping hand to the elderly

Christmas, is widely known for many as, ‘The most wonderful time of the year’. However, for some, it can be a period of loneliness and isolation. Due to the pandemic, many elderly people have found themselves more isolated than ever, as some are unable to spend time with loved ones at Christmas.  Read more

Burton Albion and Burton Albion Community Trust joined forces to serve their local residents in response to COVID-19

Burton Albion and Burton Albion Community Trust have joined forces to serve their community during the global pandemic. A whole year since they first actioned their fight against COVID-19, they have reflected upon their successes so far. 

When the first dose was administered at the Pirelli Stadium Covid-19 Vaccination Centre a year ago, it was the start of an incredible pandemic response from Burton Albion.

Now, 12 months on nearly 200,000 vaccinations have been given to grateful members of the community – with first, second and booster doses helping to save lives.

It has taken a phenomenal commitment from the football club and the community trust, working in tandem with NHS professionals and relying on the support of dozens of volunteers.

It’s something that everyone involved is justly proud of.

Head of Community Matt Hancock said: “It started with the club stepping up and wanting to be at the heart of the pandemic response. Burton Albion under Chairman Ben Robinson has always been at the heart of the community and at the time of greatest need was always going to be ready and waiting to make a big difference.

“The club has donated the facilities at the stadium and made it all possible working with the NHS to make sure we had a smooth, efficient and caring vaccination centre ready from day one.

“Since then, we have taken the massive step of freeing NHS staff to get back to their important work by BACT taking on the operation of the centre ourselves, which sets us apart from what other football clubs have done. None of that would have been possible without the dedication of our staff and volunteers and the wholehearted support of the football club.”

Ben Robinson said: “I can’t praise enough the dedication and commitment of all those working at the Vaccination Centre. It’s the biggest and most important task we have ever undertaken at Burton Albion, and it’s been an amazing success story.

“And we are now stepping that up even further with the threat of Omicron and the need to deliver booster jabs as quickly as possible.”

The Chairman visited the Vaccination Centre to thank the staff and volunteers and to make a presentation to Debbie Melling, the Vaccination Centre Site Lead for the NHS, for her birthday.

Vaccine Centre Lead, Debbie Melling being presented her flowers on her birthday.

Roy Burton, the Vaccination Centre Coordinator, said: “We have come a long way since we gave the first dose on December 16 last year and we will have topped 200,000 by early in the new year.

“Next week we are running clinics from Monday to Thursday with five extra bays and we expect to deliver 3,000 doses a day.

“The Community Trust took over the running of the centre from April which was another big step for us.”

It’s not just at the Pirelli Stadium where vaccinations are being delivered.

Roy said: “BACT and the NHS, as a joint venture, have been to De Ferrers to give doses to school pupils and to Uttoxeter Racecourse five times and we have gone out to the homes of people who can’t come here.

“A friend of BACT Chairman John Jackson has had his leg amputated and couldn’t get here for his booster so we went out to him. That links into the wider pandemic response because the NHS and BACT can then keep in touch with people like that and make sure they are getting the support they need.”

January offers another big challenge with a planned Super Sunday on the 16th with 17 bays in operation and a target of 6,000 to 8,000 doses delivered with a mix of appointments and walk-ins.

Roy said: “The Chairman has given us the club again for that and it should be stressed that Burton Albion doesn’t receive a penny for this and donates all the facilities, electricity and lighting to allow this to happen. It’s Ben Robinson’s commitment to supporting the community through the football club that has enabled all this to happen.”

As the Christmas period approaches, Burton Albion will continue to serve and protect their local community throughout COVID-19.

Nottingham Forest and Nottingham Hospitals Charity launch ‘Hat-Trick for Hospitals’ initiative

Nottingham Forest Community Trust and Nottingham Hospitals Charity have launched a new partnership to fundraise for improvements to patient care in Queen’s Medical Centre, City Hospital, Ropewalk House, and Nottingham Children’s Hospital.

The first campaign in the partnership is ‘Hat-Trick for Hospitals’ whereby they are advocating for supporters and members of the public to take three steps to fundraise £75, in return for their efforts they will receive an exclusive Nottingham Forest shirt.

The hat-trick of steps are as follows:

  • Step one – Sign up via JustGiving to do your thing! Supporters can fundraise in their chosen way, whether that’s baking, running, or maybe even sponsored keepy-uppies.


  • Step two – Raise £75 or more through your chosen fundraising challenge.


  • Step three – Once you’ve completed your fundraising, your exclusive shirt will be posted out to you – hat-trick complete!


Sign up here. Please allow 2-3 weeks for your shirt to arrive.


All money raised through Hat-trick for Hospitals will be split equally between Nottingham Hospitals Charity and Nottingham Forest Community Trust.

The fundraising challenge will help support the Youth Service at Nottingham Hospitals, and Nottingham Forest Community Trust in empowering local communities to live healthier and happier lives.

Graham Moran, BEM, Chief Executive Officer of Nottingham Forest Community Trust, said, “I am thrilled that we have launched this fundraising campaign with Nottingham Hospitals Charity. By coming together, we can harness the power of football to encourage fans and the public to raise funds for two Nottingham based charities with a track record of providing invaluable support where it is needed for our local communities. We are committed to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of local people and the funds raised will be vital in achieving this. We hope Forest fans will get behind this campaign and play their role in making the campaign a great success.”

Barbara Cathcart, Chief Executive of Nottingham Hospitals Charity, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Nottingham Forest Community Trust on this fantastic project. We hope the Hat-trick for Hospital’s challenge will offer Forest fans and other members of the local community a chance to do something fun to support their local NHS, and we think they will love the limited edition shirt they receive as a thank you!

“The money raised will make a huge difference to young patients here at Nottingham Hospitals, and the extra services, facilities and support we’re able to offer them during their time in hospital.”

To find out more and sign up click here.

Meet Shellby, who with NCS at Blackpool FC Community Trust, has been boosting the morale of a Children’s Hospice for Christmas

Shellby Meehan, 17, from Blackpool, took part in NCS during Blackpool FC Community Trust’s Autumn Programme. After acquiring new skills and confidence through her NCS experience, Shellby has since embarked upon a journey to encourage some well needed Christmas cheer for children less fortunate.

As a part of NCS, Shellby undertook a social action project with other young people as they banded together to create a project which will positively impact their local community.

Shellby’s group were keen to make a difference and put a smile on people’s faces. They decided to raise vital funds for Brian House, a children’s hospice based in Blackpool, by organising and completing a sponsored walk. The team also sourced and bought presents to donate to the children at the hospice as additional Christmas presents.

Shellby, who is a Travel and Tourism student at Blackpool and the Fylde College, took part in an engaging Autumn programme covering a range of activities such as canoeing, high ropes, Jacob’s ladder, escape rooms and Go Ape. The activities are designed to increase the participant’s confidence, teamwork and leadership skills whilst encouraging social mixing.

In addition to the adrenaline-fueled activities, Shellby attended workshops delivered by industry specialists such as Loudspeaker (Enterprise, Public Speaking and Presenting), First Aid and Independent Living (money management).

Shellby felt that the range of activities she undertook with NCS, helped her in improving her problem-solving skills and the ability to challenge herself. Shellby had some initial doubts about taking part in NCS, but those doubts evaporated quickly.

“Upon being introduced to NCS I originally thought to myself no, this is not for me at all, but I thought about it more and I spoke to my mum and other people I knew about it, who encouraged me to join.  I decided to go out of my comfort zone and I chose to take part in NCS.”

“My NCS experience has been amazing, it has built up my confidence levels and I have made some amazing new friends.”

For those that are thinking about doing NCS I would say do it, because it’s a once in lifetime opportunity, you learn so much about yourself and other people”.

After having an incredible time on NCS whilst attaining new skills and building her confidence, Shellby plans to join Blackpool Community Trust’s Changemakers group to continue to make a positive impact to the people and community of Blackpool.

“I decided to join Changemakers, because after being on NCS it gave me the chance to see if there is anything more that I can do, as I had such a great time on the course. So, I asked Blackpool if there was anything else I could get involved in, in which is when I was informed on Changemakers.”

By joining the Changemakers at Blackpool FC Community Trust, Shellby will continue to gain real life experience, take part in social action, look after her community, create career opportunities and make her C.V shine. With all this in store, there is no limit to what Shellby can do in the future.

The FIT COBBLERS camaraderie helped Nic and his family become one again

Prior to embarking on a life-changing journey with FIT FANS at Northampton Town Community Trust, Nic struggled with the motivation make changes in his lifestyle.

He stated: “My activity had pretty much ground to halt, my step count for the week was only 30-40,000, my food choices were poor and I kind of ignored my mental health quite a lot. I struggled to do anything about it and lacked the motivation to commit to seeing anything through.”

However, after spotting an advert for FIT COBBLERS last year he applied immediately, as comments, “Having the Club name attached to it really helped and kind of make it feel a bit ‘cooler.’ Having access to the club and people like Akshay was a big part.”

At his initial weigh-in, Nic was 15 stone, which was as heavy as he had been in his whole life. This emboldened Nic’s to give it everything, not just for his benefit but his children’s and his wife.

The results speak for themselves as Nic explains, “I think at the end of week 12 I was doing 160,000 steps a weekend and was I really eating super clean for 12 weeks. So throughout that 3-month programme, I lost 2.5 stone.”

Average weight loss statistics for the FIT FANS programme are impressive and exceed those of many other programmes. On average women lose well over 3kg and men over 5.5kg by the end of the 12 weeks. We also have evidence that lifestyle change and weight loss is sustained over the following 12 months. More than 90% of men and 85% of women lose weight during the programme with many losing a clinically significant amount.  Our data shows FIT FANS helps people to increase physical activity, reduce sedentary time, leading to weight loss, a significant reduction in blood pressure and improvement in self-reported mental wellbeing measures.

With such great results, Nic was anxious as to whether he would fall back into his old habits. However , he credits Akshay Mistry, Northampton Town’s Community Trust Sports Participation Officer Nic with helping him and the rest of the group keep going. So much so that Nic has surpassed his expectation and continued to lose another stone in weight.

Nic said: “It didn’t really stop, we carried on with a weekly zoom fitness class with Akshay. There’s a WhatsApp group where everyone is really supportive. All of the people that have come through the programme continue to check in with each other and we support each other on those tougher days when people are finding it a bit harder.”

Nic has continued his healthy habits and the benefits have created a domino effect for those close to him. Nic explains,

“This has not only changed my life but it’s also changed my kids life. I’m there for them much more now. I’ve got more energy and more time for them to do things they want. I do lots of walking and now the kids and my wife all come on my walk. We all go out as a family and have just become more active together.

Walsall FC Community Programme continues to provide fantastic Kickstart placements for young people seeking employment

Throughout 2021, Walsall FC Community has continued its aim to provide life-changing opportunities, by enabling over 13 young people to gain opportunities within the workplace, through the Kickstart programme.

The Kickstart programme is an initiative to help young people by giving them opportunities to get a foothold within the professional work environment. 477 young people have found employment through Kickstart at 65 EFL Club Community Organisations across the country.

Since April this year, Walsall’s Kickstarters have been involved within a wide range of placements and participated in various activities. Coaches were given the opportunity to experience all of the different projects that Walsall delivers in the community, including; Holiday Camps, Match Day Activities, Mental Health, Adult Weight Management and Premier League Kicks Sessions.

Additionally, the Ground Staff placements were split between the training ground and the stadium, undertaking tasks on pitch care management. Ground Maintenance placements included a variety of roles on general upkeep tasks, such as building, painting, cleaning, and repair tasks.

Walsall FC Community Programme are set to continue to build upon its already pre-existing successful Kickstarters, as Walsall look to recruit a further 10 Kickstart positions from January 2022, including positions such as; Community Coaches, Admin, Bar staff and in Media.

Future incoming Kickstarters will hope to follow on from previous Walsall success stories such as Jake Llyod, who secured full-time employment like many Kickstarters at Walsall, in which Jake is playing his part at the club, as he joined the Ground Staff team earlier this year.

Jake spoke about his experience with his Kickstart placement at Walsall:

“I saw the role at Walsall FC and saw it as an ideal opportunity to gain experience at a Professional Football Club.”

“Kickstart has been really good for me. I have learnt lots of new skills and gained experience whilst earning a wage. Ultimately, it has led to a full-time job for me. My experience has been really positive, and I would recommend that other people consider taking on a Kickstart placement.”

We spoke to Adam Davy, Community Director at Walsall FC Community Programme, who highlights Walsall’s incredible journey with Kickstart:

“Our initial thoughts were that Kickstart was an ideal opportunity for us to support young people in the local area.”

Kickstarters were keen to get the work experience for their CV and were keen to see what opportunities may lie in the future for them.”

“The Kickstarters were all very useful to have on placement during their time with us. This was particularly prevalent as we restarted activities. We needed extra staff at coaching sessions to temperature check, police one-way systems and clean equipment on a regular basis.”

“The Ground Staff also played a vital role in preparing the stadium and pitch for a return for fans to games and ensuring that the Club was match ready, once the green light was given for fans to return.”

Walsall’s work within the community and with the Kickstart programme has seen special recognition from Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey, who visited Walsall FC back in May earlier this year.

Thérèse Coffey had this to say:

“Kickstart is playing a vital role in helping to score better opportunities for the next generation of workers. Credit to Walsall Football Club and the EFL Trust for stepping up and giving young people an opportunity to kick off their careers and reach their goals. I encourage more employers to join Kickstart and become part of this national team effort to build back better.”

Walsall FC Community Director Adam Davy, discussed more about the highly successful Walsall Kickstart Programme:

“All Kickstarters at our club have learnt a variety of job specific skills that would be required if they wished to further their careers in the role they took for Kickstart.  They also learnt transferable life skills, important for employment, such as working in a team, time keeping, application and adaptability.”

“We were privileged and fortunate to host a Secretary of State visit to highlight our use of the Scheme.  We are confident that all young people accessing the placements will have a worthwhile experience and we strive to offer as many exit route opportunities as possible.”

Click here to discover more about how Jake secured full-time employment at Walsall.

Click here to find out more about how Kickstart is impacting young people’s lives across the country.

Warm Whites Campaign Addressing Fuel Poverty Issue

Preston North End and Preston North End Community and Education Trust [PNECET] are to deliver the Warm Whites campaign to support Preston residents affected by fuel poverty over the festive period.

Through funding from both the club and PNECET, the initiative will invite the general public to identify and nominate individuals who may be struggling this winter, particularly against the landscape of rising fuel prices in recent months.

An issue that affects households that cannot afford to keep warm at home, the club and PNECET will look to address fuel poverty across Preston by distributing necessary resources to those in need.

Warm Whites packs will contain information on the Household Support Fund from the Department for Work and Pensions, which assists residents who do not have enough resources to meet their immediate or short-term needs over the winter period.

Also included in the packs will be blankets, hats, gloves, hot chocolate, a packet of biscuits and puzzle books, while a PNECET information pack will also form part of the delivery, consisting of reading materials such as copies of the matchday programme and materials providing more details about the Trust’s provision.

The packs will be available for collection from the PNECET office at Deepdale, situated at the back of the Alan Kelly Town End, or alternatively can be delivered upon request and in this case will be distributed by members of PNECET staff.

Those who receive the packs themselves will also be invited to nominate another person they feel may benefit from the initiative as part of a referral scheme.

Chief Executive Officer of the Trust Tom Drake said: “The cold winter weather, rising fuel prices and the on-going Covid-19 pandemic are just some of the factors which have led to the issue of fuel poverty, causing real challenges for countless families at this time.

“Households affected by fuel poverty are said to be more at risk of the worst effects of Covid-19, and the links between cold temperatures and respiratory problems have been well documented by Public Health England, which we feel will only be exacerbated over the winter period.

“As the official charity of Preston North End, we see it as our continued duty to adapt to the changing needs of our community.

“We hope that by offering items such as hot water bottles, hats and gloves, we can make a small contribution – with the support of the Preston community – to addressing the issue of fuel poverty, while continuously working in partnership with Preston City Council to make a lasting change in this area going forward.”

The initiative will run from Monday 6th December until Thursday 23rd December and both donations and referrals from the general public are now being sought to support the initiative.

Donations can be made via the Trust’s Supported Giving platform by visiting

If you wish to refer an individual or family to receive a Warm Whites pack, please download the referral form from the PNE website, via PNE.Com/WarmWhites, to download the digital form, and upon completion, return via email to [email protected].

Those who find difficulty completing the form digitally can call the community office on 01772 693309 or email [email protected] for further support.

FIT VILLA sparked lifelong Villian Kate into change

Lifelong Aston Villa fan, Kate found FIT VILA the perfect opportunity to make positive long -term changes to her health and well-being.

Prior to enrolling on the programme, Kate was aware that her eating habits and physical activity had lapsed due to the national lockdown but lacked the consistent motivation to ‘get up and go’.

However, finding the FIT FANS initiative hosted at her beloved club was the initial spark for her to begin her journey.

Average weight loss statistics for the FIT FANS programme are impressive and exceed those of many other programmes. On average women lose well over 3kg and men over 5.5kg by the end of the 12 weeks. We also have evidence that lifestyle change and weight loss is sustained over the following 12 months. More than 90% of men and 85% of women lose weight during the programme with many losing a clinically significant amount.  Our data shows FIT FANS helps people to increase physical activity, reduce sedentary time, leading to weight loss, a significant reduction in blood pressure and improvement in self-reported mental wellbeing measures.

For Kate, the programme has supported her in several ways. Not only has she lost 4.6kg but has found consistency within her lifestyle from strength training at home to monitoring her diet.

She said: “The 12 week programme was fun, informative, and motivating. The classes have set us both on our way to a whole new healthier and fitter lifestyle. Michelle, Dru and Josh supported us all the way and delivered the health and fitness messages in a way that made us feel like we could succeed.

This motivation has stayed with us even though the course has ended. We have since signed up to more fitness classes, are watching what we eat and are losing more weight.”

Kate has continued to use the foundations of FIT VILLA to succeed in her healthy lifestyle.

Meet Billy Whittle: The 22-year-old who with Kickstart secured employment with Wigan Athletic Community Trust

As demonstrated by many young people across the country, the pandemic proved a difficult period for local Wiganer, Billy Whittle. Born in Wigan, the 22-year-old spent 16 months unemployed before being offered a way back into work by Wigan Athletic Community Trust through the government’s Kickstart scheme.

Billy struggled with seeking opportunities to start his career within the workplace after finding himself on an endless job search,  However, Billy’s persistence and perseverance paid off, after he found himself the dream job at his local football club, working as a Project Officer at Wigan Athletic Community Trust

The Kickstart programme is an initiative to help young people by giving them opportunities to get a foothold within the professional work environment. Nearly 1,300 young people have been provided Kickstart placements at 65 EFL clubs across the country.

Upon discovering the opportunity, Billy reflected upon his experience of initially finding the role:

“Lockdown for me was particularly difficult. Although I enjoyed the peace and quiet at times, the boredom that came as a result of a groundhog routine really affected me mentally.

“Having been unemployed for around 16 months, I applied for the role when my work coach at the job centre referred me.

“I felt I could learn key skills and develop myself to grow professionally, and I have always respected the club’s position and importance within the town I was born and raised in.”

As part of his role as Project Officer, Billy supports staff from across the organisation in planning upcoming events and ensuring operations run smoothly. Now after over four months into the role, he explains how he’s developed in the job so far:

“Since being taken on by the Community Trust I’ve gained a number of skills including organisation, leadership and time management”, he said.

“I’ve also learnt a key understanding of how a charity, especially a sports and wellbeing charity, functions and operates on a day-to-day basis.

“Every day is different and exciting, and I wake up intrigued with what each day might bring and now when I look at the badge, it’s a great feeling to think that I work for Wigan Athletic.”

“So far I couldn’t have wished for a more welcoming and friendly group of people. Starting a new job is always daunting however everyone at the Trust has made me feel like part of a team.

“I’ve made a lot of new friends who have made the four months feel like four years.”

With employment secured, Billy is now embracing his opportunity to utilise his expertise at Wigan Athletic Community Trust and now Billy has the chance to really kickstart his career.

Click here to find out more about how Kickstart is impacting young people’s lives.