Mike Evans: 2020 was clearly an extraordinary year that brought unparalleled challenges….so what next?

2020 was clearly an extraordinary year that brought unparalleled challenges to us all. Everyone has been affected by Coronavirus in some way, and I send my thoughts and condolences to those who have, and continue to, experience loss and tough times. 

From a work perspective, the challenges last year have been unlike any other and I spoke to many people about the dangers of fatigue and burn out.

As we moved into 2021 and were met with another national lockdown, at the EFL Trust we are making sure that we focus on the importance of our people and their wellbeing. We are introducing more ways to ensure that we promote positive work life balance and task driven success in our environment.

We started 2021 by checking and challenging our ‘Build Back Strategy’ that we produced, alongside our long term strategy, in response to the pandemic. Over the coming days, we are sharing our vision for the next 6 months with our network and ensuring alignment and support strategies are positively received by our most important team.

The response of our teams throughout 2020, supported by the Board, to re-engineer businesses, re-imagine programme delivery and identify and secure new opportunities to support our communities is something I am extremely proud of. None of this has been easy and tough decisions around furlough, cost controls and salary freezes have had to be made within our organisation, to ensure the sustainability of our charity.

During the first working weeks of 2021, the team have announced the vital role that the EFL Trust, Clubs and Club Community Organisations will be playing in providing jobs for young people via the Government’s Kickstart programme. Over 500 young people will be able to apply for vacancies across our Clubs and CCOs and be placed in jobs including access to training for a minimum of six months. Our first ‘kickstarters’ are now in place at Luton Town and Harrogate Town, with more vacancies being filled and advertised across the country as the year goes on.

Including Kickstart, over the last eight months we have secured new income streams of £7 million through our MHCLG Faith, Race and Hate Crime project, the DCMS Loneliness project, NCS School Support, a two year extension to our Ferrero partnership and the Youth Futures Foundation pilot. We also worked very closely with Sport England to access emergency funding directly to our CCOs.

At the time of writing we are finalising contracts for 2021 NCS delivery and the numbers look positive, ensuring that we can continue our legacy of offering the highest quality experience to young people through our programme. The review of youth services that the Government is carrying our next spring is something we will be working on as a key priority. We see this as a major opportunity to position the network at the heart of Government’s thinking for the future.

We entered 2021 confident but not complacent, and remain acutely aware that factors beyond our control will continue to play a large part in our planning and delivery.  We will need to continue being agile and flexible and recognise that there are likely to be many ongoing challenges.

We will continue to show the passion and dedication that we did in 2020 in order to overcome the challenges that 2021 presents and we look forward to a positive year, committed to creating the strongest communities we can.


500 young people will have the opportunity to work in an EFL Club or Club Community Organisation as part of the government’s Kickstart scheme.

Over 65 EFL Clubs have signed up to be involved, offering six-month work placement jobs roles to young people aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit – with the aim to give young people the opportunity to build their skills in the workplace and to gain experience to improve their chances of finding long-term work.

Vacancies at Clubs and their charitable arms will include business admin, sports coaches, marketing, ground staff, finance, youth work, graphic design, film & photography and HR and data administration roles

Kickstart gives young people the opportunity they need to get their foot on the ladder and a foothold in the world of work. Nationally, the scheme has already created more than 38,000 vacancies across the UK and received over 4,000 applications from employers. Tens of thousands more jobs are expected in the coming months.

The scheme targets young people who have been hit especially hard by Coronavirus and Kickstart focuses on giving them the best possible chance of getting a job.

Under the scheme, the EFL Trust, the charitable arm of the EFL will be acting as a Gateway provider, bringing together a network of Football Clubs, Community Organisations and other partners, to provide a wealth of opportunities across the country for the out-of-work youngsters.

Over the past 3 weeks, the first Kickstarters to take roles within EFL Clubs have come into post.

Maklin Doherty has joined Luton Town Football Club’s Community Trust as Marketing and Communications Assistant. After graduating with a 2:1 degree in Graphic and Communication Design from the University of Leeds in 2019, Maklin found it increasingly difficult to find opportunities during the pandemic and had to apply for Universal Credit.

Macklin said:

“The recruitment process and feedback from the Trust made me feel seen and revived a level of confidence within myself that has been lacking since the first lockdown began. That barriers I felt existed collapsed before my eyes.

“The recruitment process was efficient and professional, taking only 15 days from making my application to receiving the job offer.”

Macklin started his role with the Trust this week and is particularly looking forward to the variety of work in an organisation with its heart in its community.

Henry Whitaker, 22, has joined Harrogate Town, also in a communications role, directly supporting the Media manager at the Club. Henry has always wanted to work within football and as a result was volunteering at the Club to gain experience to assist him with job applications. Henry has already experienced announcing a new player at the Club and is very excited for the future.

Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said:

“It’s great to see the EFL Trust sign up to the Kickstart scheme, to nurture and support so many of our next generation of workers. This fantastic commitment will see nearly 500 young people take up a diverse range of roles, from working in finance and HR, to becoming a sports coach or marketing for a major club.

“The Kickstart Scheme gives thousands of young jobseekers a chance to get on the jobs ladder – they’ll gain vital work experience, build a network of contacts and learn the value of earning a wage for themselves – as part of our £30bn Plan for Jobs helping people of all ages into work.”

Mike Evans, CEO, EFL Trust said:

“This impact of COVID-19 on our young people is clearly very significant and we are delighted to be able to offer opportunities to young people in our communities through the Kickstart programme. A key part of our strategy at the EFL Trust is to raise aspirations and realise the potential within our communities and a scheme like Kickstart enables us to have a significant impact on the young people who need out support most right now.”

Adrian Tallon, Head of Education and Employability, EFL Trust added:

“We have a wide range of opportunities in terms of job roles and have a strong commitment to training and development for young people. The scheme will offer an important step to begin careers and build key life skills.”

Boro Awarded £100k to Continue to Distribute Food to Those in Need

MIDDLESBROUGH FC FOUNDATION have been chosen as one of Barclays’ UK charity partners, because of  the meaningful work they are doing with Tees Valley Community.

In April, Barclays announced a £100m Community Aid Package to support charities that are helping people and communities most impacted by COVID-19. Alongside a colleague-matched fundraising initiative and the £10m pledged through their 100×100 Programme, Barclays is donating funds to charity partners across the UK, Americas, Asia and Europe to ensure help reaches those who need it most.

The donation to MFC Foundation is £100,000, money which will be used to fund the continuation of its work of distributing food parcels to those who need it most at this time. Working with the Food Poverty Partnership, the Foundation will also ensure that the funds are used to enhance sustainable food options in Tees Valley for the foreseeable future, ensuring that there are accessible and affordable options available for local people.

Helena Bowman, Head of Foundation, said: “This is a significant investment for MFC Foundation and will make a huge difference to individuals in our community who, unfortunately, are in a position where they require support with food. We will ensure that this funding is used to sustain a long-term impact and we would like to thank Barclays for their generosity.”

Barclays chosen partners in the UK include those who are meeting the immediate needs of low-income families, those facing financial hardship, isolated elderly people, NHS staff and key workers.

Judith Richardson, Barclays Relationship Director, said: “This crisis has had an unprecedented impact across the UK and we know this is an incredibly challenging time for many in the Teesside region. By reaching those most in need of support, local charities, such as Middlesbrough FC Foundation have played a vital role in this crisis to date, and no doubt they will do going forward.

“As a proud member of our community, we are doing everything we can for our customers, clients and colleagues, and we hope that our partnership with Middlesbrough FC Foundation will allow many others to access the help they need as this crisis develops.”

How Football Helped Thousands of People Over Christmas

For many, it’s usually the most wonderful time of the year, but for others, even in a year without COVID-19, it can be the most difficult time of the year. For everyone Christmas was different this year. However, across the length and breadth of the country, EFL Clubs and their Community Organisations (CCOs) were busy making sure people in their communities had the best possible Christmas that they could.

An incredible amount of activity took place over the festive period; Clubs connected with isolated people in their community – even visiting them on Christmas Day. They also provided 1,000’s of presents for children who had little or nothing to look forward to. Food was delivered for those who could have gone hungry, including Christmas dinners.  Christmas cards with special messages were written from the young to the old.  Thanks to their Football Club, many thousands of people were helped this Christmas.

Here are just some of the fantastic activities that went on in our EFL Communities, many of which continue on into the New Year:


Blackpool FC Community Trust completed a Christmas fundraising challenge, which saw fans, the community, businesses, first team players and staff raise an amazing £41,311.

Club owner Simon Sadler, his family and Segantti Capital Management partners and staff have matched this achievement, meaning an unbelievable £82,622 was raised to help local children. The funds went towards providing close to 2000 gifts for children that would otherwise have very little.

Blackpool’s team worked with a number of companies and travelled to Birmingham, Manchester and local stores to collect all the gifts. The Community Trust team had the unenviable task of wrapping almost 2000 boxes for the children all in BFC branded paper to make sure the gifts were as special as possible. The gifts were delivered to schools, in time for parents to collect them.

The Trust staff also volunteered to visit some of their most at risk and isolated participants on Christmas Day. You can read the full story here. 

Derby County

Derby County knew that the festive period was going to be difficult and in many instances challenging, for their communities. To remedy some of that, several projects were set up.

County worked with the local authority to supply, prepare and deliver over 500 three course meals to those who were isolated, including to those on our ‘Tackling Loneliness Together’ project. Their current trainees assisted the delivery of these meals along with gift hampers provided by a local business.

Rams fans and participants on the Trust’s programme also nominated those who had made a difference to their lives across the pandemic and sent out ‘Christmas Community Cracker’ gifts to say thank you for their efforts.

Pride Park Stadium, which has been acting as a food donation hub, saw record levels of donations to support those in need. Care packages were distributed across the Trust’s health projects and Christmas themed events were run virtually across the schools network to keep the festive feeling going!

AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth Community Trust hosted their ‘Care South’ Christmas afternoon tea.  The annual event was hosted slightly differently to normal, as it was running virtually. During the event, videos and songs were played to get everyone singing and dancing in their homes and player ambassador Jack Simpson got involved in the fun.

Bradford City

Bradford City recorded short question-and-answer sessions with their players to provide entertainment for local schoolchildren who had sent in questions.

On Saturday December 19, City’s home match against Cambridge United was dedicated to Bradford Hospitals’ Charity and the work they do for youngsters over the Christmas period.  It was a show of support for the hard work done by the NHS throughout 2020. This filled the void of players being unable to visit Bradford hospitals and deliver Christmas gifts due to COVID-19, and activities included the club sponsoring a Christmas snowflake, warming up in BHC t-shirts, and purchasing gifts for poorly children off BHC’s Amazon Wishlist – each member of the first-team squad contributed to this.

After the match, a box of 23 retro Bradford City football shirts were donated to Centrepoint, as part of this year’s Shirt Appeal, which aimed to care for homeless people across the Bradford district. The month then concluded with the delivery of 1,500 food parcels to disadvantaged youngsters across the Bradford district. Additionally 150 meals were delivered to doorsteps across Bradford every day from Monday December 21 to Friday January 1 – including a Christmas-dinner on December 25.

 Charlton Athletic

During December, Charlton Athletic continued to support the local community with food parcels. A week before Christmas, Charlton’s new owner, Thomas Sandgaard, donated 50 Charlton Shirts to CACT’s Downs Syndrome team, 50 shirts to Bexley Council for their “kids in care” project and 50 shirts to Greenwich Council for the children receiving food hampers.

15 of CACT’s health team have also been trained to do COVID-19 lateral flow testing.  CACT is now responsible for the staffing of 2 test centres in the Greenwich Borough.

Hull City

Members of Hull City’s Tigers Trust team worked in partnership with ‘Aim Higher’, a local Hull based charity that empowers families facing autism, mental health and education barriers. The Tigers Trust team helped deliver Christmas Eve boxes filled with specially selected items that would help entertain the children throughout the festive period. They packaged and delivered over 80 boxes to families in Hull and East Riding to make their Christmas’ special. One father commented that it was the first proper smile he’d seen from his daughter in over a month.

Peterborough United

Peterborough United have supported local families and those most vulnerable in delivering food parcels to help ensure people in the community didn’t go hungry this Christmas. The Posh have reached 370 local residents. United have also been delivering food packages on behalf of Millfield Community Fridge, a local charity food bank, to vulnerable local residents.

The Posh are also working closely with Disability Peterborough and Caring Together to support getting those that need transport to and from vaccination appointments.

Colchester United

Colchester United Football in the Community have continued to service the needs of their community throughout the Christmas Period. United holiday provision programmes provided activities free of charge as well as healthy food for those on free school meals. These activities provided over 200 meals from the 21st – 24th December.

Carlisle United

During December the Community Trust helped out at one of the Carlisle Community Help Affordable Food Hubs. Trust staff organised food supplies to be brought to the hub, stocked and packed for individual requirements and delivered them to vulnerable people.

Wigan Athletic 

During the festive period, Wigan Athletic Community Trust made a real difference to those who may be at risk of loneliness and social isolation during Christmas. Thanks to the generous donations from Wigan Athletic supporters and players, over 300 Christmas support packages brought some festive cheer to local residents, care homes and patients at the local hospital during what could have been a difficult time for them. Packages contained Christmas gifts and also letters and cards from local primary school children. The deliveries were supported by Latics first team players and staff, who donated to the appeal and also dropped the packages off to a number of residents. This was on top of donating and delivering presents to 100 local children at Hope School, the local hospital’s children’s ward and youngsters attending holiday camps at Wigan Youth Zone, where they also enjoyed sports activities and a free lunch.

Queens Park Rangers

Throughout the most unusual Christmas and New Year Periods, QPR in the Community once again remained at the forefront of their local community, ensuring that everyone in the west London area received some festive cheer and remained connected throughout these unprecedented times.

After partnering with Tesco prior to Christmas, club ambassador Andy Sinton and staff from the Trust were able to deliver over 100 Christmas hampers to members of the club’s Extra Time group. The group includes some of the most vulnerable people in the west London area, many of whom were alone this Christmas.

Throughout the festive season, the Trust’s safeguarding team have been in regular contact with people from all over the world through the ‘R’ You OK?’ campaign which ensures those who are struggling during this tough time will always have someone to speak too.

Swindon Town

Swindon Town delivered festive packages to isolated people as part of the Tackling Loneliness Together programme. These 100 Christmas packages, contained food essentials, Christmas treats such as Christmas pudding and mince pies, boxes of chocolates, a mug, books, a bag of gifts such as socks, baseball caps, drinks bottles and more. These were hand delivered across Swindon and Wiltshire to the delight of the participants. This also afforded us another chance to catch up with the participants in person before Christmas and New Year.

The community trust also delivered free Holiday Camps targeted at schools in areas of depravation, with support from the Premier League. The courses included transport to and from the venue and also provided lunch.

Port Vale

Port Vale Foundation have continued with their food package deliveries and over the festive period hand delivered over 15,000 meals to families across Stoke-on-Trent. They also launched a 2020 Christmas Appeal which saw hundreds of presents delivered to those who weren’t going to have anything to open on Christmas Day.

Vale’s ‘Cards for Vera’ campaign captured the imagination of school children (and some of their adults!) as the Foundation asked people to help us to put a smile on 90 year old Vale Fan Vera’s face. Until she became a part of Port Vales’s friendship calls and garden visits, she hadn’t seen anyone for over 8 months.

Luton Town

As part of Luton Town’s #tacklinglonelinesstogether project, the Club teamed up with local schools to encourage over 1,000 pupils to produce festive cards that were distributed to older supporters and vulnerable adults living alone or having to self-isolate in Luton. The children designed the front cover and wrote a greeting inside the card along with a poem or short story.

Kevin Thorburn, from Luton Town Community Trust, commented, “Some of the messages created are so heart-warming that they bring a tear to the eye – kids are so perceptive when it comes to topics like loneliness and vulnerability, whereas often adults can often turn a blind eye as ‘we’re all too busy’! The aim of 1,000 festive cards from 1,000 kids was to ensure that for people of all ages and backgrounds, staying at home does not lead to loneliness and by linking the youngest with the oldest members of our community we’ve made some impact and brought a smile or two to some lonely faces.”

Local resident, Pat Pueschal contacted the community team’s office to let us know,

“Today I received a lovely hand-made Christmas card. This was a delightful surprise and I am extremely pleased with it. It has been made by Olivia and it has pride of place on my mantelpiece.”

Bolton Wanderers

In the build up to Christmas, Bolton Wanderers helped to support the most vulnerable members of their community through a number of initiatives. As part of the Tackling Loneliness Together project they carried on phone calls, garden gate visits and 1-1 walks to those aged 70 and above, whilst over 100 Christmas cards and wellbeing booklets were delivered to their older season ticket holders. Wanderers also delivered 3 days of holiday activity and food camps for vulnerable children as part in partnership with the Premier League and Bolton Council. Staff from the Community Trust also volunteered their time at Bolton’s Humanitarian Hub helping to pack and load Christmas hampers to those most in need over the Christmas period.

Forest Green Rovers

Forest Green Rovers were very active during December. Rovers boosted the ‘Kids Stuff’ Christmas Appeal with Stroud District Foodbank, with gifts from their Academy which reached over  500 children. They supported @Play_Glos’s ‘Christmas Bags of Play’ by donating over 200 children’s football shirts, shorts, 500 newsletters and Christmas cards. Over 2,500 Green Devil magazines were distributed to 70 local schools and a further 300 were delivered to sheltered accommodation and care homes. Rovers also sent over 500 Christmas cards/letters from our FGR Community Ambassadors to participants of our Tackling Loneliness Together project.

Northampton Town

Northampton Town FC Community Trust has been reaching out to numerous members of the public over the age of 70 who are lonely and feeling isolated. Club players and management joined in with the effort with Manager Keith Curle, Assistant Manager Colin West and players Nicky Adams, Sam Hoskins, Ricky Holmes, Ryan Watson and Danny Rose making personal calls to isolated supporters. The calls went down brilliantly, with players and management spending 10-20 minutes on the phone with each person they called. The Northampton Town FC Community Trust staff have been calling those who are vulnerable and isolated since the beginning of the pandemic in March. This work has continued and the Community Trust staff even spent some of their Christmas Day making calls to those who may have been spending that time alone.

Cambridge United

The Christmas period was definitely the time for giving for Cambridge United Community Trust. As an early Christmas present, United donated 120 sets of kits (in total worth £5,400) to 12 schools in their local community to thank them for their support throughout the difficult year

United also wanted to ensure that local seniors in their community were keeping healthy, engaged and connected. As well as ringing round all of the football club’s senior season ticket holders, they  dropped off Christmas presents including Cambridge United calendars, scarves and activity packs to those who have been taking part in their Forever United activities (as part of the Tackling Loneliness Together initiative).

The U’s mascot Marvin the Moose also made a special visit to The Gretton School for a special visit to our Every Player Counts disability football session participants.

Preston North End

Preston North End Community and Education Trust [PNECET] supported the elderly and most vulnerable members of the Preston community by delivering 600 essential food hampers throughout December, as part of the Helping Hampers campaign. Hampers, which also contained seasonal and festive materials, were delivered to identified vulnerable people, primary school children who usually receive free meals, those accessing the Tackling Loneliness Together programme and PNECET programme members. Some hampers were even delivered by Preston City Councillors.
PNECET also worked alongside the Here for Humanity group, ensuring 100 Hampers went out on Christmas day, accompanied by cooked Christmas dinners. NCS participants packed and boxed the hampers, and also wrapped Christmas presents that were gifted to young carers from across Preston, who would otherwise receive little at Christmas time.
Tackling Loneliness Together provision continued with friendly phone calls and garden gate visits made to season ticket holders, while 20 young people who normally receive free school meals were further supported by the Happy Holiday Club provision, which saw those identified vulnerable young people receive nutritious free lunches and physical activity sessions from PNECET. Find out more here.


The Huddersfield Town Foundation has raised £14731.30 raised from its inaugural Christmas Fundraising Appeal! The amount raised will make a huge difference to it’s delivery in the local community.

The appeal started with a generous donation of £4,000 from the FV & E Brook Charitable Trust, a local charity that aims to contribute to worthwhile causes and charities local to Huddersfield. From there the Foundation launched the Business Appeal, giving organisations the chance to purchase a Foundation-branded bauble for their Christmas Tree. Each of these were sold with a donation of £100 to the Foundation and were purchased by a range of businesses and individuals.

On 1 December 2020 the Foundation’s Chair of Trustees Ann Hough wrote directly to Town supporters, asking that they consider making a donation ahead of Christmas. To say the response was overwhelming would be an understatement, with donations to our Just Giving page and Text Donate Service coming in from hundreds of people.

Another key event in the appeal was the Santa Stroll, in which an array of supporters and staff took to the streets in their local area on Sunday 13 December 2020. The challenge was to walk at least a mile in your best festive wear, and it was great to see so many people out and about despite the unfavourable weather.

In addition, Huddersfield Town’s match worn shirts from December’s Sky Bet Championship victory over Sheffield Wednesday were auctioned off. The auction attracted bidders from across the world and each player also recorded a personalised video message for the winner, making it a truly unique gift.

On the success of the Christmas Appeal, Town Foundation Fundraising Executive Lisa Bottomley said:

“To raise such an amount in our first ever Christmas Appeal is testament to the strength of the Huddersfield Town community. As we enter the new year and Government restrictions remain in place, the money raised will have a significant impact on our ability to maintain provisions such as Breakfast Clubs. I’d once again like to thank everybody that has ever supported the Town Foundation.”