Harrogate Town Community Foundation are happy to announce the appointment of Henry Whitaker as Marketing Officer. He joins Harrogate Town Community Foundation after successfully completing his Kickstart Placement. Read more
Aston Villa and Birmingham City Football Clubs’ Community Organisations have launched a new employment project, Kick-Off, which is specially designed to help young adults overcome the barriers that are preventing them finding work. Read more
Stephen Snell attended FIT FANS with Charlton Athletic Community Trust and credits the 12 week health programme with changing his life.
FIT FANS, which is funded by Sport England through the National Lottery, aims to help fans like Stephen tackle their weight and make healthy lifestyles choices that are sustainable.
Prior to the FIT FANS programme, Stephen had a problem with his diet. He explains,
“My issue has always been with diet, I know what’s good for you and what’s not. For me it was when I ate, I ate too much.”
Speaking about the programme, Stephen says,
“It’s changed my life a bit. I’ve lost just over 2 stone, I’m eating a lot healthier and I’m exercising.”
FIT FANS is are run at Football Clubs across the country. Taking place in stadia such as The Valley, participants take part in an exercise session and are given advice and tips on nutrition, healthy cooking and more. Stephen adds,
“Every week I learned something and I could put that into practice, such as getting my step count up for the day,”
The FIT FANS programme allows like-minded fans to get together each week and speak about their weight-loss journey and encourage one another. Stephen continues,
“What I liked about it is you didn’t feel pressured, you felt open to talk because everyone seemed to have the same kind of issues or concerns. I just felt really comfortable doing it, whatever we needed to do. I now exercise every day and My fitness levels now are unbelievably high.”
For Daniel taking part in FIT FANS with Bolton Wanderers was about more than just weight loss. In a letter to Bolton Wanderers Community Trust Daniel explains how the 12 week healthy living programme, which is funded by Sport England through the National Lottery, made him more positive about his life.
“I just wanted to get in touch to thank you for the opportunity to be a part of Fit Trotters over the last 12 weeks.
“The whole process has been amazing. From a weight point of view I haven’t lost all that much but the benefits I come away with are still amazing. Before this, it was difficult for me to connect with people. Living in Manchester now I fell in to a trap of losing touch with friends, family and my home town and the club. Fit Trotters gave me the opportunity to put that right and I am so much happier and far more positive about everything in life after being with you every week and I feel like a lot of burdens and worries have slowly gone away. The program gave me the opportunity to do so many things. The stadium tour and doing the sessions in the ground have been a dream come true for a life long Bolton fan. Everything about the program has been amazing and the impact you can have on individuals should never be under estimated.
“I really appreciate you and the club taking part in the program and hope you continue to do so for the long term. I am going to miss everything about it especially the feeling of being a part of the club. I wish you all the best for the future.
Good luck again going forward and thank you so much for the last 13 weeks.”
OVER the last few year we have seen challenges the like of which we never expected to encounter in our lifetime.
Kevin Robinson had his personal challenges to face before Covid-19 reshaped the world as we knew it. Friendships made on the FIT BORO programme have helped him realise the light at the end of the tunnel is not that of an onrushing train.
Shortly after enrolling on what was to be a 12-week programme aimed at increasing physical and mental wellbeing, Kevin’s wife underwent major surgery and her father passed away. Kevin said in a letter written to MFC Foundation.
“I thought this could be the end of this course for me. However, I was blown away by your concerns and support during this time, This relit the fire in my belly and I quickly joined back in through your encouragement.
“I joined for some inspirational tips to kick start me getting fitter and losing weight. Over the first few weeks I was both happy and inspired and quickly started to see my weight head in the right direction for the first time in many years. Being held at the Riverside was a bonus and brought a smile to my face each Monday evening. Both the classroom sessions and the workouts.
“What I had not expected was the friendships struck up with others on the course. All attending a Boro game together, walking around the Riverside area chatting with like-minded people. Then I missed a few weeks through my wife having a major operation and my father-in-law passing away. Your help and encouragement has pulled me through.”
Kevin, who has particular praise for the programme’s leader Paul South, goes on to say.
“Then an unpredictable change. None of us could have predicted the Covid-19 lockdown. Again I thought I was not meant to complete this course. Then you step up again, encouraging us all through our WhatsApp group to continue the collaboration on a Monday evening, exercising as a group, which has been good fun. We look forward to your regular posting of healthy meals by the Boro Head Chef for us to follow. I have to congratulate you on assisting me to complete this course, You have truly helped me beyond my expectations.”
Nicola, by her own admission, was probably at the lowest point in her life both physically and emotionally. She was inspired to begin her Fit Fans journey after seeing her sister succeed on the project. Nicola has put the experience into her own words below.
“I had just come out of a destructive, abusive relationship where I had taken an emotional battering. I had zero self-worth, confidence, energy or motivation, my mind was a jumble and I felt done. I didn’t know what way to turn.
“Of course, Covid hadn’t helped as I was furloughed so I didn’t have anything to distract me or get me out. I turned into a couch potato, piling on the weight but not caring as there was no point. I didn’t want to go out, do anything with the kids, meet up with family because that would take the little energy I had. I was pretending I was okay, and I wasn’t. I was ashamed I had let myself gain so much weight, and it didn’t help that I’d being suffering with knee pain and joint pain for about 18 months and was unable to see a physio in person. I felt so frustrated as it felt like no one was listening to me. I should have been on anti-depressants, but they made me feel groggy, my head heavy and meant I had even less energy. I was just stuck in a miserable vicious circle.
“Joining Fit Fans was a huge turning point. I don’t even know where to begin or if I’ll be able to put into words what a difference it’s made to me and my children. It sounds melodramatic but it’s changed my life, and theirs.
“Ben and the Derby County Community Trust team are inspiring. There is a lot of information, but they present it in such an easy going, informative way that it kept my attention and I was able to retain it. The encouragement every step of the way that myself and the other ladies in the group were given has been amazing.
“For me it has been about the simple changes and pausing to think about my choices. Anything from parking a bit further away from Asda in the car park to portion size (the information on takeaways shocked me. and that belief from the team and the other ladies on my course that I could take on that first gentle run in three years!
“The balance of food, exercise, and wellbeing for me has been key, not just concentrating on food and calories (like other diets I have attempted). I have lost weight in a healthy, balanced way. I have gone down almost two jean sizes and am starting to fit in my old clothes again. Before I couldn’t even look in a mirror, in fact I only had one in the bathroom, but now I do have one and can look and think yes, you’re getting there, you’re doing okay!
“I have rekindled my love of walking, running, exercise. My cardio has improved massively, and I have just recently been discharged from physio. The more walking and exercises I’ve been able to do has tightened the muscles that were causing the problem with my knees. That along with the weight loss has also helped with my other joint pain.
“My mental health is about 90% there. I still have my odd bad day, but I don’t sit and mope anymore. I get the dog on his lead and walk it off and maybe pop a message in our Fit Fans WhatsApp group. It really is true: healthy body, healthy mind.
“Most importantly though my children have their mum back. The happy, healthier mum that would attempt anything at least once. The one who wants to drag them off their Xbox and get out. They have loved seeing the old me re-emerge and have been actively encouraging me and asking questions about the course and embracing the changes I’ve made. As they say, I have my sparkle back. My big goal is to train and take part in a triathlon which I could never have dreamed of before Fit Fans!
I know that for me and some of the other ladies (all amazing and now good friends!) we feel like it has given us our life back.
Fit Fans is an amazing, inspiring, life-changing experience. I can’t wait to move on to the next stage with Derby County Community Trust to carry on my ‘recovery’ and carry on with the ladies I started it with. I can’t thank Ben and the team enough.”
To find out more about your nearest FIT FANS programme, please contact your local Club using the list below.
As part of National Fitness Day, we’re celebrating the achievements of FIT BLACK CAT Keith Chow and how AFC Sunderland’s Foundation of Light health helped him turn his life around!
Small changes he has made to his diet and lifestyle have made a big impact on his journey and helped him live a healthier and happier life.
Keith, 65, first joined the programme, which is funded by Sport England through the National Lottery, in March 2020 and has been a regular face at the Beacon of Light, not only making a positive change in his own life but helping to support others too.
Over the first 12 weeks Keith, who lives in Jarrow in South Tyneside, lost over a stone in weight but it was the other benefits of the programme that made a big difference to him, he says,
“I wanted to make a change in my lifestyle. I used to be a fit person but working in an office, I got into a routine of sitting at a table and not exercising as much. FIT BLACK CATS was ideal as I thought there would be other people the same as me which would encourage me. I also wanted professional support to help me make a sustained change. It was a great opportunity and it’s on my doorstep.
Keith has taken a lot out of the classroom-based sessions in particular, learning how to change his lifestyle and building his confidence. But it wasn’t just him who was learning and the programme was impacting,
“When I’ve come home after a session, my wife would ask me what I learnt that day and study the booklet with me. The two of us would then follow the same set of instructions and make small changes at home. So not only was I learning but my wife was as well. The biggest thing that sticks in my mind is that making a small change, can make a big difference. Rather than having two pieces of toast in the morning, just make one. Small percentage changes which have stuck and paid dividends. I lost a stone which I was over the moon with. I have started swimming and cycling again.”
He actively recruits new members to the programme and he is acting as a mentor to new members. To anyone thinking of joining or who needs support, Keith says it’s worth getting involved.
“It’s great as there are professional people there to help and support. It’s not about making a quick fix you’re learning not only how to get fit but also how to eat properly and make sustainable lifestyle changes. It’s so important to remember that you’re not on my own. It’s going with a group of people and trying to encourage each other.”
Catherine Watson, a FIT coach at the Foundation of Light, praised Keith for his positivity says,
“For me he embodies what FIT BLACK CATS is all about. He is enthusiastic, is always willing to try something new, and he motivates others. He just has such as passion and enthusiasm to look after himself and he is a pleasure to work with on the programme.”
FIT FANS is a national programme which has helped thousands of people, not just football fans, to achieve long-term improvements in weight loss, physical activity, diet and general well-being.
The main aims of the programme are to:
- Improve your eating habits
- Cut down on alcohol
- Increase your activity levels – one step at a time!
- Reduce your weight and waistline
- Support each other to stay on track
This year National Fitness Day is happening at a tipping point for our nation’s health. As we enter our second winter during the pandemic, it has never been more important to help people to stay as active as possible.
Only last week research was published revealing that people seeking NHS help to lose weight during the pandemic are on average five pounds heavier than those starting the programme during the previous three years.
This extra weight, gained as people lived through the COVID pandemic, means people are at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that weight gain of one kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, can increase your risk of diabetes by around 8%. Excess weight is also linked to a greater risk of severe Covid-19 symptoms. You are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 if you live with Type 2 Diabetes.
This is a trend we are seeing on our award winning FIT FANS programme. Men were on average 2.9 kg (6 pounds) heavier before they started the programme this summer (June 2021) than the average starting weight in the winter before the pandemic (January 2020). The same pattern is seen among women. The average weight at the start of the programme has risen by 2.4kg (5 pounds).
FIT FANS works. The 12 week programmes offers guidance and support on eating, drinking, sleeping and being more active in daily life. 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.
Our average weight loss statistics are really impressive and exceed those of many other programmes. On average women lose 3.31kg and men 5.51kg by the end of the 12 weeks. We also have evidence that weight loss is sustained and continues to increase over the following months after the end of the course.
FIT FANS is now offered by nearly forty clubs across the EFL network. During the pandemic, despite all the restrictions and disruption it has caused, we have supported nearly three thousand people. We are now building on the investment we have received from the National Lottery and more than a dozen local authorities across the country have now chosen to invest in making FIT FANS part of their weight management offer.
National Fitness Day has the potential to inspire but also to deter. For many people the term “fitness” is off putting and conjures images of Lycra clad fitness instructors in exclusive gyms. We understand that, for many football fans, fitness is an elusive state and something they see on the pitch in the stadium but not in the mirror. We believe that fitness is a relative concept and is about being fit for life. That will mean different things to different people. We know that the first steps towards being more active are often the hardest but that every little helps. We have support in place for people who want to make a change.
There’s been a lot of attention given to online initiatives to get people active and they do have their place. However, we remain convinced that bringing people together gives the chance for people to meet people lime them. The support and solutions they give each other are key to making change last.
FIT FANS groups go through the experience together. They encourage and reassure each other and are the better for it. We all need to start somewhere and FIT FANS could be the place for you. With courses starting all over the country this month and again in January, click here for more details.
It’s been a tough 18 months for coaches across the country, as the global pandemic shut down the majority of activities. Getting a job during this time also proved to be challenging. This was proved by Ruth Oldham, an aspiring sports coach. Read more
The English Football League (EFL) has been nominated for the Community Award at the 2021 Leaders Sports Awards for its ‘Tackling Loneliness Together’ project.
The awards will take place at Twickenham Stadium on Thursday 7th October during Leaders Week London.
‘Tackling Loneliness Together’ was launched through the EFL’s charitable arm, the EFL Trust, and enabled EFL clubs to play an important and unique role in supporting their local communities when issues associated with loneliness were put into sharp focus at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic.
From zoom cookery lessons for widowed men in Derby to Christmas Day phone calls in Wigan and Christmas dinner deliveries in Stoke, the project offered support to over 33,000 people – more than 75% of which were over 65 years old – and over 120,000 phone calls were made to those at risk of becoming isolated.
With financial support from DCMS to initially drive the activities and additional funding and support from local partners, EFL Clubs created a range of locally delivered support services including face-to-face visits, welfare and befriending telephone calls, provision of information by post and virtual sessions via web platforms.
Data collected from a survey of Tackling Loneliness Together participants revealed that people felt less anxious, less lonely and happier about life as a result of the programme:
- Average life satisfaction score increased from 6.47 to 6.84
- Feelings of being worthwhile increased from 6.89 to 7.20.
- Feelings of happiness increased from 6.50 to 6.87
- Feelings of anxiety decreased from 3.82 to 3.61.
Mike Evans, Chief Executive of the EFL Trust, said: “We are delighted to have been nominated for the Community Award at the Leaders Sports Awards for our ‘Tackling Loneliness Together’ project. Football starts conversations, helping people to connect, and we are immensely proud of how our clubs responded to the pandemic by putting their communities first and providing vital support for those who were at risk of becoming lonely and suffering the effects of deteriorating mental health.”
Other activities that formed part of the ‘Tackling Loneliness Together’ project included:
- Afternoon tea parcels delivered to doorsteps in Stevenage
- Online walking tours in Blackpool
- Online book clubs in Middlesbrough
- Happy birthday calls from West Bromwich Albion
- Tablets pre-loaded with software enabling supporters to watch EFL fixtures in Northampton
- Online seated exercise sessions in Crawley
To find out more about the ‘Tackling Loneliness Project’ visit: https://www.efltrust.com/tackling-loneliness-together/
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