Trevor: “I’ve lost 6 stone in 2 years with Stevenage FC Foundation and it’s physically and mentally changed my life.”

Two years ago, Trevor Prowse, who was overweight and suffered from severe anxiety, never thought he would be able to do everyday activities like playing with his grandchild or talking to a stranger on the phone.

It wasn’t until he was referred by his GP to meet Healthy Lifestyles Officer Hannah Marsh at Stevenage FC Foundation, when his life turned around.

Hannah said: “When I first met Trevor he told me our meeting was the first time he had left his house in a week due to his anxiety being that severe and he was very unsure about taking part in any exercise.

“He agreed to try our ‘Introduction to Exercise’ class and despite his apprehensions, he took part, thoroughly enjoyed himself and hasn’t looked back since.”

Stevenage FC Foundation’s Introduction to Exercises classes are designed for people with long-term medical conditions (both physical and mental) and are mainly circuit based.

The sessions also incorporate other activities like Soccercise, Pilates and Boxercise and have a strong element of social support with the group regularly opening up and sharing their experiences and struggles with their health.

In the two years that Trevor has been involved, he has lost a remarkable 6 stone and his blood pressure has dropped, to the point where he no longer has to take medication.

Talking about his experiences, he said: “I started suffering with severe anxiety from my early 20’s, so really suffered for a good 30 years.

“It effects your whole life and makes you so self-conscious, to the point where you can’t even leave the house or do very much.

“Taking that huge step to take part in the sessions at Stevenage FC Foundation was such a life-changing decision for me.

“It’s made a huge difference, I’m doing things now I never dreamed of – last weekend I even went sky diving!

“It’s also the little things that make all the difference. I recently became a Grandad for the first time, and when I was overweight I wouldn’t have been able to do very much.

“But now, I can be active and spend time with him and it means so much.

“Anxiety has been a part of my life for so long – but those simple things are really what make all the difference.”

The 58 year-old credits the sessions for not only helping him physically, but mentally, as he no longer dreads meeting new people and looks forward to classes each week.

 He added: “Stevenage FC Foundation, the course they run and Hannah are all superb and I would recommend it to absolutely anyone.

“There are people there of all ages, all levels of fitness and everybody is there for their own reason – I consider the people in my class as not just friends, but even family now.

“The sessions have allowed me to realise that there are people who will help you if you are struggling, you just have to open up.

“Something may seem daunting at first but once you get over that barrier in yourself and try it, it may just be one of the best things you ever do.”



Foundation of Light wins high praise from DCMS Select Committee

Sunderland AFC’s Foundation of Light has received high praise from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in its report “Changing Lives: the social impact of participation in culture and sport”, which was released today.

The report considered how culture and sport can be used to tackle criminal justice, education and health issues, as well as transform towns and cities across the UK. It reviewed and considered several successful initiatives across the country, of which the Foundation of Light was one.

The Committee, including Chair Damian Collins MP and Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott, visited the city as part of its investigations last year, taking in a tour of the Beacon of Light to see the life changing work that the Foundation carries out.

The report said “We visited the Beacon of Light, a recently-opened sports, health, education and community space run by Sunderland AFC’s Foundation of Light. As well as sports courts, the Beacon’s facilities include a school for 13-16 year olds who are disengage from mainstream education, a health and wellbeing zone to offer health services to visiting families and a business centre to teach employability skills.

“The Beacon of Light estimates that they will generate £73 million worth of social impact over the next twenty years. More broadly, the Foundation of Light delivers 49 different community programmes across South Shields and County Durham, encompassing employment, health, education and sport.

“We were highly impressed with the Foundation of Light and its devoted staff. We saw for ourselves the opportunity for joy and new experiences that it was bringing for children and parents alike.”

Damian Collins MP said “Culture and sport play a major role in how we see our nation. What we’ve focused on in our inquiry is the transformative power of culture and sport, not just to enrich the value of our lives but to address a range of long-standing social problems.

“Social activities like group singing and walking football can improve the mental health and physical health of those who take part. Major sports clubs are using the power of their appeal to change life chances for young people.

“More needs to be done to co-ordinate and invest in community initiatives, share evidence of success and encourage others to emulate the examples of best practice.”

Foundation of Light Chief Executive Lesley Spuhler said, “I am immensely proud of the work that the Foundation of Light does to improve lives across the north east. We have seen the impact that our sport, education, employability and wellbeing programmes can have and the real difference they make to our communities.

“We are thrilled to receive such positive recognition of our work by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. It is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of everyone in the organisation to changing and improving lives.”

The full report is available on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport website.

Chloe Palmer: “Football and coaching enables me to channel my emotions in a positive way.”

Chloe Palmer, pictured right

Coaching at her local Community Trust was not something Chloe Palmer could have envisaged when she lost all confidence and reached a very low point in her life a few years ago.

Chloe, was introduced to Exeter CITY Community Trust (CCT) in January 2018 thanks to the Amber Foundation, a charity which helps homeless and unemployed young people move on to positive and independent futures. Working with the organisation has rekindled her love for football and coaching and given her a positive outlook on the future.

She says the support from the charity and structure of her role has been the key to helping her with her personal progression after battling mental health issues.

She says: “My life got a bit chaotic and my mental health went downhill quite quickly whilst I was at college.

“I was also left sofa surfing, with no stability and no routine. It was when I was living with one of my close friends down in Plymouth that my support worker at the time put me in touch with Amber Foundation.

“They then got me involved with the Opportunity Hub at Exeter CITY Community Trust and from there my passion for football and coaching came back.”

The 20-year-old, from Plymouth, currently volunteers as coach at CCT’s DS Active Down’s syndrome sessions, Powerchair sessions and on disability holiday courses. She is also a member of CCT’s women’s Ability Counts team – a team which offer adults with mental health issues, learning difficulties and physical impairments the opportunity to engage in regular, structured, professional and fun physical training sessions.

She states that playing football and coaching has given her a purpose and a pathway to look forward to in her life.

She adds: “I had no confidence and low self-esteem before I went to Amber and started working with CCT.

“My anxiety was through the roof, to the point where I couldn’t really leave the house.

“But for the first time, I was around people who didn’t give up on me and I started to actually believe in myself and build a routine back in my life.”

Chloe credits the coaching opportunities at Exeter CITY Community Trust for giving her a more positive outlook on life and finds the responsibility to inspire, motivate and watch the development in others very fulfilling.

As she looks towards the future, she hopes to put her new skills into practice and achieve her goal of becoming a support worker.

“Football and coaching takes my mind off everything else and enables me to channel my emotions in a positive way.

“It feels good to be able to inspire and have an impact on the kids’ lives and then to actually see them develop and put the things you have taught them into a game, it makes you very proud.

“One day I would like to be a support worker and work with children with autism, so doing what I’m currently doing can only really help me achieve that.”

Will Allan, Disability Officer at Exeter CITY Community Trust, has seen Chloe progress since she first started volunteering in the summer of 2018, he says:

“Chloe has become a key member of the Exeter CITY Community Trust’s disability coaching team.

“She has a natural talent for coaching children and young people and is fantastic at connecting with some of our less confident players.

“She inspires them to get involved and helps them to achieve their best at every session.”




Active Minds Group proving a prolific hit, as Mansfield FC Football in the Community tackles Mental Health

Mansfield Town Football in the Community are delighted to announce that their proactive approach to tackling Mental Health is continuing to grow, having seen increased numbers attending their ‘Active Minds’ sessions.

Taking place every Friday at the One Call Stadium, the ‘Active Minds’ sessions tackle Mental Health issues such as loneliness, low self-esteem & self-confidence, PTSD and anxiety – along with improving the lives of those living with Dementia.

Since the groups launch in March, Football in the Community have seen a vast increase in the number of people attending the group, with participants enjoying a different activity each week, designed to encourage team work and improve confidence through the power of sport and play.

Led by Football in the Community coaches, activities have included a number of outdoor sports games, music therapy, board game sessions, interactive quizzes and indoor fitness classes – activities which have proved a real hit with participants, old and new.

“My husband is a different person when he comes here, and I know that many of the other wives have seen the same transformation” – Carol Wright, wife on long-term participant Peter, who lives with Dementia.

“It’s such a simple set-up and to get as much out of it as they do is unbelievable. It’s the friendship that they get out of it, they come here and can talk for hours, whilst they can be at home and not speak for hours, like you’ve fallen out, you haven’t that’s just Dementia.”

“He has a different expression on a Friday morning; he knows he’s coming here and he really lights up – it’s worked wonders for his wellbeing, knowing every week he’s coming here gives him a focus.

“The main things I get out of these sessions is seeing that he is happy, it’s different to the rest of the week. When you first get these sort of diagnoses you think that you’re excluded from the rest of the world and that nobody cares, there’s a stigma to it – but here [at Active Minds] that simply doesn’t exist.” 

Mark Hemingray, Head of Community, said: “Active Minds has been a really successful project for us so far, the fact that we can split in into two strands [Chat – Focussing more on Dementia & those unable to participate in physical activities, and Sport – focussing on outdoor sport for younger males] allows us to make an impact across the community.

“Playing games and doing something competitive releases endorphins into the brain and body and it’s been scientifically proven that that has a real positive effect on those living with Dementia, and those living with any form of Mental illness – which is why we design our sessions the way we do.”

Participant Kurt Eggington said “It’s great to have that camaraderie between the group, although we may not be in the same situation across the board we all have our own issues which we are trying to deal with.

“The important thing about basing the group around football and sport is that it’s a common denominator – everybody that comes here for example has an affiliation to the Football Club – it’s always a central point, a focal point.

“Without taking that first step [in joining the activity] you never know if it’s going to be of assistance to you, you may just find if it makes life that little bit easier for you and it does give you something to look forward to, as it does me”

Active Minds sessions take place every Friday at the One Call Stadium and are FREE to attend. ‘Active Minds: Chat’ is suitable for anyone living with dementia or may be living with mental health problems, unable to participate in physical activity – ‘Active Minds: Sport’ is for males aged 18+ battling any form of mental health issue and contains more physical sporting activities – to find out more about the sessions or what may be of benefit to you or a friend, you can contact Football in the Community in confidence on 01623 656 920 or email with the subject title ‘Active Minds’.

EFL Clubs to help tackle increasing numbers of railway risk takers

The EFL Trust has today launched a new partnership with Network Rail and the British Transport Police (BTP) to help tackle the increasing number of people risking their lives on the railway.

EFL Clubs will be part of the project that will help to educate and raise awareness of the dangers of the railway network to young people.

New figures released today reveal over 250 incidents a week have been recorded by people taking risks on the railway – taking short-cuts, capturing photos and even ‘train surfing’ – sometimes with tragic consequences. Young people (under 18s) make up one of the largest categories, responsible for a third of all cases.

All 72 EFL Clubs will be involved in the campaign with activity ranging from social media posts to player messages.  Clubs who are within the trespass incident hot spot will run workshops in their local communities.

Allan Spence, head of passenger & public safety at Network Rail, said: “Children, and adults alike, continue to risk their lives by stepping out onto the track and it has to stop. Every day we see almost 40 incidents and each one could be a potential catastrophe leading to life-changing injuries or even death.”

The ‘You vs. Train’ campaign launched last year by the rail industry and British Transport Police saw incidents involving children reduce by 12%, but this vulnerable group continue to be at high risk. Responding to the continued problem, the industry’s railway trespass group has this year launched a new phase of the You vs. Train campaign, forming partnerships with the EFL Trust & StreetGames to drive the rail safety message directly to this hard-to-reach group.

At the heart of the issue is a lack of understanding and awareness of the risks. Research undertaken amongst teenagers last year found that, while most are aware that the railway is a dangerous place, most of them don’t realise quite how dangerous it is or the specific dangers they face when they step on the track.

Mike Evans, Director of Operations at The EFL Trust, said: “Bringing about positive change in the community is at the very core of The EFL Trust’s values. Football can be an enormous force for good and have a profoundly positive impact on communities – so we are looking forward to helping tackle this issue in those areas where children and young people are particularly vulnerable.”

A new film highlighting the hidden dangers of the railway has been launched across social media alongside new content telling the story of Tom – a young boy who suffered life-changing injuries in 2014 when he was electrocuted by the overhead power cables – and his family, to illustrate the life-changing impact that the accident has had on them.

To watch the new video and find out how to keep young people safe on the railway visit:


EFL Trust are proud to support Amnesty #FootballWelcomes initiative

This weekend (27-28 April), more than 160 football Clubs across the country (44 of those Clubs from the EFL) are taking part in Amnesty’s Football Welcomes initiative.

The campaign, now in its third year, sees football Clubs lay aside rivalries and come together to celebrate the contribution refugee players make to the beautiful game.

From a group of children fleeing the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s who went on to become some of the first refugees to play professionally here, to the likes of former Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba; ex-Manchester City forward Nadia Nadim; Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka; Dejan Lovren at Liverpool and Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke,players with a refugee background have been making their mark on the game for decades.

Backed by the EFL; a number of Premier League clubs; the FA Women’s Super League; the FA Women’s National League and grassroots and non-league teams across the country, Football Welcomes also aims to highlight the important role football clubs can play in welcoming refugees and people seeking asylum into their local communities, and in helping them to settle in to a new country and culture.

EFL Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey said:

“Football Welcomes highlights the vital role football and our 72 clubs can play in bringing their communities together.   Refugees have made a significant and lasting contribution to professional football in this country and we are proud to support this important initiative to celebrate the impact they have had on the game, whilst also making local refugees and people seeking asylum feel welcome at EFL matches.”

Many other clubs around the country will be giving free match tickets to refugees and people seeking asylum living locally, arranging player visits or stadium tours, or organising a match or tournament for refugees and asylum seekers in their community programmes.

Naomi Westland, Football Welcomes Manager at Amnesty International UK said:

“Football clubs are at the heart of their communities and it’s great to see teams across the UK using the international language of football to create connection, respect and friendship across cultures. With so many people across the globe forced to abandon their homes due to conflict and instability, it’s important that football clubs use their platform to send out a clear message: refugees are welcome here.”

Wigan Athletic to sponsor Wigan Pride celebrations for fourth consecutive year

For the fourth year running, Wigan Athletic will be showing their support for Wigan Pride by helping to sponsor the event in the town centre on Saturday 10th August 2019. 

This year’s event will highlight equality and diversity, and will also mark 50 years since the Stonewall riots in New York, which led to the development of the gay rights movement across the world.

Each year, Latics support the work of Football v Homophobia, with players warming up in branded t-shirts and members of the U18s squad taking part in an educational workshop.

Wigan Athletic Community Trust will be working closely with Stonewall, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights charity in the United Kingdom, and the Premier League to provide training to its staff about how to make sessions more inclusive to LGBTQ young people.

Jonathan Jackson, Wigan Athletic Chief Executive, said: “Wigan Pride celebrations over the past three years have been excellent events which have helped to bring communities across Wigan together to highlight equality, diversity and respect in our borough. 

He added: “We’re committed to promoting equality and diversity at Wigan Athletic through our Together programme and look forward to be in attendance at this year’s Wigan Pride.”

Taking place in the town centre from 11am-5pm, Wigan Pride will be a day of entertainment for the whole family, with activities including a street parade, arts, crafts, music and more, while club staff will be present at the event to showcase the work of the award-winning Community Trust.

Daniel Bonney, Vice Chair of the Wigan Pride Committee, said: “We’re so grateful and proud to have the support of Wigan Athletic for a fourth consecutive year. As an event organised by a voluntary multi-agency committee, we are solely funded by our partners and sponsors so it is amazing to have the support from one of the borough’s major sports teams.

He added: “From taking part in the Football v Homophobia activities to their work with Stonewall, it’s great to see the club being so inclusive and taking a stand for the local LGBTQ+ community.

If you are an LGBTQ Latics supporter or are interested in LGBTQ issues and would like to know more about the club’s Together programme, please contact Head of Community Tom Flower by calling 01942 318090 or emailing

Interested in getting involved in Wigan Pride? Would your business like to become a sponsor the event? Please visit WWW.WIGANPRIDE.COM or email us at


National Siblings Day: Twins Grace and Lauren are excelling at Bristol City Community Trust


On National Siblings Day we showcase the fantastic work of twin sisters Grace and Lauren Phillips who are second year students on Bristol City Community Trust’s football and futsal BTEC level 3 extended diploma in sport programme.

After excelling in their studies, they are both on track to achieving the grade of triple distinction star in their sports diplomas, a result which has led them to receiving offers to continue their studies at Gloucester University next year.

As well as exceeding in the classroom, the two sisters are key players in the Community Trust’s women’s futsal team and have played an integral part in the teams journey in making it to the National Finals which will be played at England’s St George’s Park next month.

Chloe Rogers, who is Sports Lecturer and Futsal Academy Coach at Bristol City Community Trust, has worked closely with the girls in improving their futsal performance. Talking about her experience of coaching the girls, she said:

“They are both a joy to coach, competing is in their blood and the passion they have every time they step on to play whether that be in training or fixtures is admirable, they encourage others and only recently whilst we were competing in Portugal they stepped up and encouraged the younger girls which is a coach’s dream.”

As well as studying with The Robins, Grace and Lauren are also members of the Trust’s Youth Council – a body of eight young people who help to shape the work done at the Community Trust – and have been since the council’s conception nearly three years ago.

During their time on the Youth Council, the twins have been involved in representing the Trust at Parliament during last year’s regional EFL Awards event and they have both received national recognition for their work after winning the 2017/18 FA Women’s Football Award for ‘Best Participation Initiative’ for the Trust’s ‘Future Fives’ initiative – a programme which they masterminded.

In addition to this, Grace and Lauren have each spent over 400 hours volunteering with the Trust on various different projects and programmes and are currently working at Easter Holiday football camps.

Head of Education at the Trust, Chris Stenner, commented that, “Lauren and Grace are two inspirational young women who have given a lot back to their local community.

“They have continued that hard work in the class room and on the pitch and are a credit to the Trust.”

Talking about her experience of volunteering for the Trust, Lauren said, “Volunteering for the Trust has been great, and it has been really rewarding to give something back to the local community.”

To find out more about Bristol City Community Trust visit: 


Teens tackle homelessness in Hull

17 teenagers from Yorkshire and Humber dedicated their time to help a homeless family move into a house as part of NCS Action Day.

Partnering with Hull Homeless Community Project (HHCP), the group undertook a project to redecorate a house giving a homeless family the best possible start in their new home, as well as giving a fresh lick of paint to the HHCP offices for the community to enjoy.

In one day, the group had achieved what they set out to do, as they repainted every room and moved furniture into the house and as a result, a family in Hull were given a foundation to restart their lives in a new home.

Prior to their project, the group also raised funds through a charity football event and bake sale. The money raised was used to buy items such as tinned food, pasta, rice, sanitary products, and toiletries for care packages that will be distributed across  three homeless charities in Yorkshire and Humber, (HHCP, The Welcome Centre (Huddersfield) and Ben’s Centre (Sheffield).

Jaz, 17, from Hull said;

“I’m incredibly proud of the team and how our social action project went.

“It feels amazing to have pulled off such a large project and for the group to come together to help others.

“Hopefully, we have made huge difference to a family’s life and the care packages will give some relief to people less fortunate.”

Jaz and the other young people are part of the Regional Youth Board after completing NCS (National Citizen Service) with EFL Trust (English Football League).

Their project was part of an annual event, NCS Action Day, which aims to showcase the true power of young people as NCS graduates, using the skills and experience they gained on programme to continue to make positive changes in their local area.

Andrew Smith, founder of HHCP, thanks the young people from NCS for their time and support;

“The difference they have made was instantaneous, our client was lost for words when she saw her newly decorated home.

“This means we can move her into her new home swiftly and smoothly and will give her the best chance of a meaningful recovery from crisis and homelessness.”

All teens involved have completed NCS with EFL Trust through their local football Club or youth organisation.

In 2018, NCS graduates from EFL Trust delivered over 130,000 hours of social action, raising of £100,000 for local charities in Yorkshire and Humber.

To find out more about the NCS and Action Day visit

Tom’s 12-year journey with Brenford FC Community Sports Trust – From participant to volunteer

Volunteering for his local Community Sports Trust was not something Tom Campbell (pictured far left) could have envisaged when he joined Brentford’s disability projects twelve years ago.

Tom, who has autism, joined the weekly football sessions to support him with his social and communication difficulties. His parents’ motivation for joining the project came from his difficulties in social situations; yet our ‘On the Ball’ project proved to be a turning point for Tom.

With football always being a personal passion, he found his vocation and, over the years, took on some leadership roles within the session.

The Trust’s ‘On the Ball’ project aims to tackle mental health problems on the heart of the football pitch. The ten-week programme supports children – aged 5-11 years old – who have autism or learning difficulties in west London. The project is delivered in partnership with Action Attainment, a charity in west London that is committed to enabling children with speech, language, communication and sensory needs to achieve and have active lives.

Speaking about the project, and the benefit it has had on him, Tom said:

“The Saturday morning football sessions have become a regular component of my week; I have been going for at least 12 years now. I have improved my physical fitness, coordination and strength, and it has given me something of real value to do on the weekend.

This project had such a profound effect on Tom that he began volunteering for the Trust three years ago – supporting the Trust’s disability projects and taking on the role of Assistant Head Coach.

“Volunteering has been a learning curve as I have learnt how to handle many different types of people from different backgrounds and different physical difficulties,” Tom said.

“I have also started going regularly to Brentford home games as a season ticket holder; this has become a major part of my life and I have become a passionate supporter and I love going to games.”

And Disability Manager for the Trust, Chris Tribe, believes that Tom has flourished in his role as a volunteer – becoming a role model for other children who have autism.

“When Tom first started, he was very anxious and reluctant to join in with the activities,” Chris said.

“Over time, his confidence really increased and in recent years, he has volunteered for us and become an avid Brentford fan and season-ticket holder. We look forward to working with Tom and his family as his journey into adult life progresses.”

Last year, Tom started full-time employment, and he credits his volunteering experience with helping him gain this role.  And despite him kick-starting his professional career, you will still see Tom coaching the Saturday morning sessions – giving back to the project that helped him all those years ago.