A development journey: Hannah Jones and Rotherham United Community Sports Trust.

Hannah’s passion for being a leader, an innovator, and a mentor to females in sports stems from her own experiences. Through, her club Rotherham United, she has been able to pursue a career focused on her desire to better the experiences of others.

She said: “I currently hold a position within the FA Leadership Academy, which is designed to develop people as leaders, to plan, deliver and develop a project to impact the football community and the wider football community. Due to my own experiences, I focused my project on developing females and female footballers, giving them a sense of belonging in football, as well as producing and recognising talent.”

Hannah attended Rotherham United Community Sports Trust college programme before enrolling onto their FdSc Sport Coaching and Development run in partnership with University of South Wales.

With an abundance of experience and skills in numerous programmes the Trust offers from education to health and wellbeing, Hannah is an individual that is focused on providing and empowering every participant, colleague, friend she encounters especially females in sport.

She explains: “The development of females within a sporting environment is something that I do have concerns for and am passionate about in terms of developing. By providing this opportunity to our females will create an inclusive, welcoming, and quality experience.”

The USW course has allowed Hannah to feel a sense of belonging. More so, it has allowed Hannah to develop and produce ideas to inspire the next generation that could lead to a huge, successful future for women in sport whether that be Hannah’s influence on them both on and off the pitch.

The University of South Wales allows students to gain practical experience in their desired nature of work, whilst allowing for a blended learning approach where students have both face-to face and online learning. The courses which are hosted at your local football club has a huge emphasis on gaining real world learning through placements with students only having to attend the University for short residential periods.

She comments: “The whole experience will give the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals; students like yourself, perhaps past students, and those who work within the sporting industry. This will allow us to be our best selves, unite as one; acting together as one within the movement where we can strive to empower each other to realise potential and develop.”

It is evident that Hannah has the ability to inspire change through her selfless desire to improve and aid those around her. With already a plethora of strings to her bow, Hannah’s aspirations have no limit.

She said: “After completion of the 2-year course with USW, I hope to enrol onto the Sports Coaching and Development top-up degree, after which I would like to enrol onto a PGCE to follow the path into sports teaching, school and education. Alongside this I wish to continue my current coaching path; I’m soon to complete my FA Level 1, after which I hope to progress up the ladder in coaching badges (across multiple sports) and potentially begin my refereeing experience.”

Click here to find out more about the degree 

Young Blackburn Rovers fan George doesn’t let his cerebral palsy stop him from being active

“He gets stuck in; he gives everything a try and there is nothing that he doesn’t want to do”

Young Blackburn Rovers supporter, George, has recently started in reception at Avondale, in Darwen, a partner primary school of Blackburn Rovers Community Trust.

George has cerebral palsy, and he has difficulty maneuvering himself around independently. However, this doesn’t diffuse his enthusiasm to participate in the EYFS gymnastics sessions run by Blackburn Rovers Community Trust at his school on a weekly basis.

The sessions focus on helping the children travel with both their hands and feet, with around 30 students aged 4-5 from Avondale participating each week.

George’s one-to-one, Zoe, said: “George has come on a lot, he gets stuck in and gives everything a try.

“When he first started his limbs were very tight and I do physio sessions with him daily. He wears splints, not for the PE sessions that Blackburn Rovers Community Trust or we provide, but his flexibility has come on. George’s balance is getting better, and he’s benefitted massively from all the sessions he has available to him.

“He has cerebral palsy, it’s his lower limbs so it predominantly affects his lower half

“George is a massive Rovers fan and every time we come, he says ‘I love Blackburn Rovers’ so it’s great to connect the two and he knows the familiarity of the club so it’s great that he can do sessions.”

Each week, the sessions follow a different engaging theme to allow the children to use their imagination, and just recently, the session was focused on superheroes and animals.

The skills Blackburn Rovers Community Trust’s staff teach include balancing both on and off apparatus, jumping and landing safely, transferring weight from one limb to another and rolling.

George is always looking to get involved with each activity put in front of him, and always has a huge smile on his face.

Sarah, SENCO lead at Avondale, said: “George is a resilient little boy who will give everything a go. He always has a smile on his face, and we include him in everything we can.

“He has physiotherapy sessions every day at school to ensure that his muscles are getting stretched, and we are trying to build that up. He is making progress.

“George loves football and he loves Blackburn Rovers. It is good he is encouraged to have a go at anything, and he looks forward to the sessions Blackburn Rovers Community Trust runs.

George’s dad concluded by saying: “George loves to be active and never lets his disabilities hold him back. He’s a big Rovers fan and always tells the family how much he loves doing PE with Rovers.”

Every Player Counts with Wigan Athletic Community Trust has given Carl a sense of belonging in his local community.

Carl presents a mild learning disability and also expresses his struggles with mental health, but the Trust Every Player Counts session has given Carl a sense of belonging in his community. As well as this the sessions provide him an opportunity to play the game he loves whilst keeping fit and encouraging social interaction.

He commented on why he enjoyed the session: “Come enjoy the game, get an hour out of the house, enjoy the session. Get to know everyone and become part of the team.”

The Every Player Counts programme which was funded by Wembley National Stadium Trust for 6 years has helped 12,498 people with a wide range of disabilities play football – many for the first time. The programme was delivered across 40 EFL Club Community Organisations, with around 19,000 Every Player Counts sessions being provided.

He is now 36 years old and has been involved in Wigan Athletic Community Trust provisions since the age of 16 where he participated in Premier League Kicks sessions. Carl’s involvement with the Trust speaks volumes as to the benefit it has on the local community.

Carl is a big character within his team, and his passion for the sport shines through. He even attends the sessions if he is injured to offer his support and encouragement to other players.

The big reason for Carl’s continued engagement with the Trust is not only the fulfilment it provides but also gives him the reason to leave home.

He explains: “It’s got me more involved. If I’m at home I’m going to be bored so I just want to play football on Wednesdays. It gets me out of the house so I enjoy coming here.”

Wigan Community Trust has played a huge role in Carl’s life, and he has now expressed a desire to volunteer at other programmes facilitated by the Trust to give back in the way the Trust has given to him.

How Bolton Wanderers LGBTQ+ Youth Club is breaking down barriers

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is a key focus for Bolton Wanderers and Bolton Wanderers in the Community (BWitC), and the club’s LGBTQ+ Youth Club has been hugely successful in creating a safe space for people to be themselves and making a difference in the local area.

Launched in 2018, the LGBTQ+ Youth Club focuses on hate crime, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and offers young LGBTQ+ people and allies aged 13-17 a safe space to socialise, meet others they identify with and open up about important topics and issues they may face.

Beth Warriner, BWitC Programme Lead, plays a key part in the weekly running of the Youth Club and is delighted with the positive impact it is having in tackling exclusion and hate crime in the Bolton Community.

“About 50% of the people attending the community work we deliver around the Bolton area were identifying as LGBTQ+,” she told The EFL.

“They expressed an interest in wanting their own night as part of the Youth Club. We looked at what we could do to support them, so initially the LGBTQ+ Youth Club was formed on a trial basis to see what the turnout would be and it was hugely successful.”

The Youth Club – delivered in partnership with Bolton Council’s Play and Youth Service – has been running for almost six years, with the group meeting on a weekly basis in Farmworth, Bolton, and once a month, 9-12-year-olds are also invited to join the session.

Beth added: “We advertised it in schools, sent flyers out and got a fantastic response. It’s been running every Tuesday night for over five years now and it’s been really successful. Having a separate Youth Club night for members of the LGBTQ+ community gives young people a safe space to chat and meet others who are also LGBTQ+.

“The staff area LGBTQ+ as well which really makes a difference to the young people, because they’re able to support and guide them through any tricky life situations.”

The Youth Club participants also work with BWitC and Greater Manchester Police on education around hate crime, with the youngsters taking part in hate crime training as well as becoming hate crime ambassadors and helping educate others on what hate crime is and how to report it.

“It was reported back by the young people that the hate crime training wasn’t very user-friendly or interactive for their age groups.

“So we applied for some funding locally and managed to get some hate crime training delivered that was specifically tailored to young people. As ambassadors, the participants were then able to go out and deliver that to other Youth Clubs and schools around Bolton.

“It was a really impactful and empowering experience for those young people and really gave them all a lesson on the importance of hate crime.”

Hate crime training has also extended to all staff members at Bolton Wanderers and Bolton Wanderers Community Trust, with the University of Bolton Stadium now also becoming a third party hate crime reporting centre.

Such is the success of the LGBTQ+ Youth Club, BWitC are also looking to introduce a second weekly session as they look to reach and benefit more young people of the LGBTQ+ community.

“It’s certainly growing in terms of how we’re able to expand the provision,” Beth concluded.

“Four of our participants recently started university, most of whom joined us on our first-ever session back in 2018. We’ve had the privilege of watching these young people grow and develop into confident and resilient adults.

“There are endless young people who will benefit from this, we’ve seen that first hand.

“I’ve been to schools that have LGBTQ+ sessions and they have 40 or 50 attendees, so there is definitely a real need for the support and if we can help benefit these young people with our Youth Clubs then it’s great.”

Proud Terriers Goes From Strength To Strength Ahead Of Huddersfield Town’s Dedicated Rainbow Laces Fixture

“I really want to help in the fight to eradicate homophobia from football,” says Ryan Mather. In 2020, we gave our platform to Ryan a life-long Huddersfield Town fan and very ‘Proud Terrier’ to tell his story in his own words. At the time Ryan was also a first-year student on the University of South Wales and EFL Trust Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching and Development with Huddersfield Town Foundation.

Ryan has since progressed having completed his Foundation Degree earlier this year and is now in the process of completing the Top Up Degree.

Ryan explains how proud Terriers came about, “A few years back at a Huddersfield Town vs Brighton game, which was our Rainbow Laces fixture, there was homophobic chanting from the Town end to the Brighton fans. This was the most uncomfortable I have ever felt at a game and this incident left me feeling upset, angry, and so disappointed. Being made to feel like this has led to me having several panic attacks and has impacted my mental health. If I’m feeling this, then others within our community will feel the same. “

“I made it my mission ultimately to create a culture of inclusion in football and develop more of an accepting atmosphere throughout the ground and the community. My starting point was to create a real identity for the group and came up with ‘Proud Terriers’. I started with a logo and then created a Twitter page for the group. At the time I already knew someone at the Football Club and so I reached out to him to tell him about my ideas and to see how he could support us and the Club have been really supportive.”

There has also been support from Huddersfield Town Club legend, Andy Booth who has become a Proud Terriers ambassador. This has seen the initiative grow from strength to strength. Andy works within the supporter’s services and is the frontman of getting ideas off the ground from appearing in the club programme, to meeting players.

Ryan said: “He’s been a really incredible ally to us and one I will always be grateful for to have someone I looked up to growing up when he played for the club is surreal.”

This has enabled Proud Terriers to be a connecting partner with many local colleges and Huddersfield Town Women which has continued to enhance the football is for everyone messaging to a wider, diverse audience.

More so, social media has been powerful in Ryan’s upwards trajectory with his Instagram and Twitter followers doubling since their creation in 2020. Consequently, Proud Terriers now has its own merchandise available with Ryan and his team handing out laces, badges and leaflets at Huddersfield Towns dedicated Rainbow Laces fixture against Millwall on Saturday 29th October.

“I am a big Huddersfield Town fan and I have been all my life. I am an openly gay football fan and I’ve witnessed homophobia and really wanted to establish a movement to inspire a new generation of fans and create a culture in which homophobia doesn’t exist. There still is a way to go but with Proud Terriers we’ve made a great start of the journey.”

You can find out more by following Proud Terriers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ProudTerriers or email Ryan and the team at [email protected].

Making the unnoticed, noticed, “Many of us felt that the homeless go unnoticed in society and we wanted to give them a voice.”

A group of inspiring young teens from Sheffield with Element Society recently set out on a unique mission to impact their local community during their time on the National Citizen Service programme (NCS).

The mission… To help the homeless.

Following a week of adventure which included rock climbing and raft building, the group of 13 young people set to work on improving their community with the delivery of a social action project. Young people on NCS get the opportunity to complete a social action project as part of their experience, where they are given a taste of independence, mix with new people, take on exciting challenges and work on meaningful projects.

For their project, the group agreed that poverty and homelessness is a big issue within the city and felt that it was important to do something about it.

Naming the project ‘Th3 Unnoticed’, the group wanted to acknowledge the lack of awareness of homeless people within the city and started off by handing out food and drink for the homeless people of Sheffield. This was coupled with heartfelt messages and personalised cards of motivation, leading to some tearful emotions of gratitude from the homeless people.

Jon Dennis was one of the young people involved and gave more detail of what the group got up to:

“Many of us felt that the homeless go unnoticed in society and we wanted to give them a voice. It all resulted in a project that we were proud to be a part of.”

“We spent a week spreading awareness through social media about the struggles and misconceptions of rough sleepers in Sheffield. We used our £100 allowance to buy 15 meal deals and hand them out to the homeless in the city centre. We also talked to the homeless and asked them about their experiences of sleeping on the streets.”

Not slowing down, the group then set out a unique social experiment, involving one member of the group acting as a homeless person and then asking the public for help, to see whether anybody showed any concern. The group then gave £10 back to members of the public who did show concern as a sign of appreciation.

The groups endeavour went from strength to strength, as they also created surveys for the public, to gain their perspective on homelessness. The idea behind the surveys, was to help the group to gain some important data on the public’s perspective of the homeless within Sheffield, including how many members of the public would be willing to a help a homeless person, when encountering them in the city centre.

Emily Broadbent, another member of the group had this to say about the project:

“Our project was to help the unnoticed citizens by spreading a message that there is still hope left for the less fortunate. As a group, we all agreed that people shouldn’t still be living on the streets especially with such a wealthy economy surrounding them, as they become unnoticed and put in the shadows.”

Their 2-week experience on NCS has not only helped raise awareness of homelessness in Sheffield, as the young people themselves also gained greatly from such a fantastic collective effort, pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and interacting with a wide range of different people within the community.

Will Earp, Programmes Manager at Element Society, commented on the young people’s project:

“The team recognised that in their local area, homelessness rates are increasing, with more and more people sleeping on the streets. They wanted to spread some kindness and joy through their short messages, it was heart-warming to see the responses from some people.”

“Their passion was evident about this topic and the team would love to use Changemaker opportunities to pitch to continue their social action!”

Click here to find out more about NCS.

“The impact of this programme is so huge it is almost unmeasurable”

These were the words of Hayley Barclay from Club Doncaster Foundation who recently took students from Harrison College in Doncaster on the NCS programme. Read more

Young people put a smile on elderly people’s faces

A group of 13 young people recently set out on a project to spread cheer and share essential supplies to their community. 

The project was spearheaded by young people on NCS with Port Vale Foundation. NCS is an experience designed for 16–17-year-olds where they are given a taste of independence, forge new relationships, take on exciting challenges and also working on social action projects to benefit their local communities. 

They  chose to keep their social action project local to home as most of the group are Port Vale fans and so felt passionately raising money for Port Vale Foundation’s ‘Community Cupboard’. The Community Cupboard is an initiative to help people struggling with food poverty within the Stoke on Trent community providing a welcomed support of vital supplies throughout the year for people in need. 

To keep the cupboard up and running, the group raised money at one of Port Vale’s ‘Golden Valiant’s’ sessions. Golden Valiants is part of EFL Trust’s Extra Time Hubs programmes and is aimed to tackle loneliness in elderly people.   

Young met old as the group hosted a Golden Valiants session and hosted a variety of fun and exciting activities, such as a quiz, bake sale, tombola, as well as bonding with the elderly over some hot beverages. The event put a smile on everyone that attended, with elderly people stating their personal enjoyment on bonding with the younger generation.  

The fundraising at Golden Valiants resulted in raising over £200 worth of supplies for the community cupboard. This included young people buying essential food items such as milk, pasta, soups, meat and many others. 

The legacy of the project has already been felt within the local community, with elderly people at Golden Valiants expressing their gratitude for the young people that hosted the event.  

Sadie Haynes, Community Project Co-ordinator AT Port Vale Foundation had the following to say about the project: 

“A huge thankyou to the NCS young people who fundraised for our Community Cupboard, the food that was donated from the monies raised will go a long way in supporting the families in our community who need that support.”  

Click here to find out more about NCS. 

Young people host refugee event at Loftus Road

A group of young people on NCS, launched a project this summer to provide some cheer for refugees raising £285. The young people, who were with QPR Community Trust, had the opportunity to make a positive difference within their community through their NCS experience.

NCS is designed for 16–17-year-olds and during their experience they are given a taste of independence, as they mix with new people, taking on exciting challenges and also working on projects to benefit their local communities.

The young people ran an event for a group of local refugees, which was held at QPR’s Loftus Road Stadium. One of the group members, Mohammed, was a refugee himself and was passionate about supporting other refugees within the community. The group felt inspired by Mohammed’s story and so got to work on a project.

The group contacted refugee charity ‘Care for Calais’ and discussed their idea of hosting an event at QPR, involving tours and fun activities for the refugees. On the day of the event at Loftus Road, over 40 people attended and were enthused by the passion shown by the young people, in attempting to provide some cheer.

Families and young children has an evening of fun games, activities and were also shown around Loftus Road. Due to the success of the evening, the group, alongside QPR and ‘Care for Calais’ are now lookign to arrange further events to engage more refugees in the local area.

Mohammed talked to us about the project:

“We needed to help the community, to try to understand how to help people and to make a better society. It was really wonderful and enjoyable to organise the event at Loftus Road, because we made other people happy.

“I enjoyed meeting new people and their children, communicating with them and put smiles on their faces.

Mohammed has felt the positive impact his NCS experience has had upon him whilst working on his refugee social action project at QPR:

“NCS was the best experience I ever had, it was such a great time to meet new friends, to do so many activities and to learn so much. NCS has helped me improve my own skills, such as communication and it has shown me how to talk confidently. I would love to do NCS all over again.”

Not stopping there, the young people launched a Go Fund Me page, raising £285. The money raised was used to provide goodie bags to give out to each refugee attending, containing toys, games, QPR merchandise, food and drinks.

Savannah Pacey was one of the young people involved within the project, she had this to say;

“This was such a rewarding experience for us. We were able to spend an evening with a group of people who we wouldn’t normally have contact with. To hear their stories and see the smiles on the children’s faces was just incredible.

“It has been such an incredible experience. I’ve loved every minute, from the activities in the first week, to the social action project it has just been so rewarding. On top of that I’ve made some great friends too!

“I feel more confident now to go out in the world and challenge myself!”

Click here to find out more about NCS.

Young people on NCS rejuvenate school garden for local a school

Port Vale Foundation Trust’s (PVFT) young people have been making a significant impact upon themselves and within the community, as they carried out a project at their local school with the aim of increasing student socialisation and their mental health, through renovating a school garden.

As part of PVFT’s NCS programme, young people decided to carry out their social action project at Watermill school, where they attended as students. Watermill school is one of three SEN schools within the local area where PVFT deliver their NCS programme, in which the young students involved within the project have special educational needs.

The group worked immensely on creating a more aesthetically pleasing garden for the school and themselves, allowing the it to be a place where students could relieve any stresses and relax.

For the success of the project, the group decided to use their creativity and organisation skills, as they split the group up into smaller sections, dedicated to specific tasks.

For one of the tasks, the young people weeded and re-dug the area, creating a prettier space. Flowers were also planted, where water features were installed, powered by solar. Also, along this area, young people created a positive stone, featuring positive words, images and messages along with the names of the young people involved, which were permanently engrained onto stones. The main idea for this was to leave a lasting legacy that the Watermill Year 11 young people had during their NCS experience.

Other tasks involved creating a ‘bug hotel’ sanctuary for insects, digging out a flower bed and planting new seeds, re-painting a shed, cutting the apple trees and improving the general overall aesthetics of the garden.

Misbah Mahmood was one of the dedicated young people involved within the project, and had this to say about the experience:

“I really enjoyed my NCS experience and I learnt lots of new skills I would never have learnt. NCS has been really fun and I will miss doing the programme each day!”.

The project generated a massive impact upon the school, its garden, its students as well the young people involved, as they also benefitted greatly from the project, developing new skills, new friends and a stronger mentality through their hard endeavour. NCS Changemakers with PVFT will continue to monitor and improve the school garden in the long-term and uphold the legacy of the project created by the young people involved.

Paul Kirk, teacher at Watermill School had this to say about the legacy of the project:

“The NCS programme has had a huge impact on the social, emotional and cognitive development of our pupils. We have seen the pupils clearly develop their communication, teamwork, problem solving and leadership skills amongst many others. Our young people now often refer to their NCS skills and experiences as some of the highlights of their school life”.


The hard work and dedication from all the young people involved at the project did not go unnoticed by Watermill School, as the school hosted a special NCS Graduation Day for all the young people the be acknowledged and congratulated on their project.

NCS Project Lead at Port Vale Foundation, Jorgie Wallace, has this to say:

“The young people were amazing on the NCS programme, and they really did exceed all of our expectations. Throughout the 2 weeks, young people all pulled together to work as a team and demonstrated various different skills which they can use going into their future.”

 “As a staff team, we really enjoyed working with the young people, they kept us on our toes and definitely left a lasting legacy with their social action project. The young people are all a real asset to the school, NCS and Port Vale Foundation. The Graduation allowed us to celebrate all the success of the young people and recognise all their hard work on this once in a lifetime opportunity.”