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.