Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) has updated a range of programmes since the COVID-19 outbreak in March to keep participants safe and make a difference in local community.

In partnership with the Royal Borough of Greenwich and a range of community organisations, CACT runs the Greenwich Community Hub, to help vulnerable residents in the Borough.  The Hub involved doubling the capacity of the existing call centre CACT delivered on behalf of the Royal Borough of Greenwich and implementing more remote working with support from Principal Partner ITRM.

This has allowed more than 66,000 calls from members of the public to be taken, providing deliveries of groceries and prescriptions, a walking service and transportation for those who need it most during these uncertain times. While a number of programmes have been postponed, several have embraced technology to continue delivery remotely. CACT’s mentoring and counselling service have gone telephone-based, to ensure mentors and counsellors respectively can continue to provide support.

Staff from CACT’s mentoring team in East Kent have been working with local food banks to help the families of the young people they mentor, a number of whom are short of food.

Young Greenwich, the youth service CACT delivers on behalf of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, has launched free online youth sessions for young people aged 10-19 (or up to 25 for those with special educational needs or disabilities). It also holds live parties twice a week via social media to engage with participants and their parents. The lockdown parties are hosted by youth workers, including a DJ who plays songs upon request, and have reached more than 29,000 people so far, with some parties featuring special guests

CACT’s annual fundraiser for its Down’s syndrome programme, the Charlton Upbeats, had to be adapted but was a big success. With fans encouraged to walk 1 mile for the Upbeats in their gardens, local streets and parks, an initial fundraising target of £10,000 was set. Supporters raised more than £28,000 for the programme, an outstanding effort which is vital as the programme is entirely run on voluntary donations.

The Social Action & Enterprise team which runs National Citizen Service (NCS) at CACT are holding a range of online sessions to engage participants, including bingo, workouts and cookery challenges.

The EFL Joy of Moving and Premier League Primary Stars programmes have engaged with participants through Twitter and Instagram, and men’s and women’s players have set social media challenges. Inter-generational cohesion has also been encouraged with young people asked to write letters and poems to elderly residents who are in isolation, and these have been shared through the Extra Time Hub.

Extra Time Hub participants also enjoy a weekly session via Zoom on Wednesday mornings, when in-person sessions would normally take place, and have been taking part in singalongs. CACT remains committed to reducing social isolation, and FIT FANS participants have also kept in touch with each other and the programme lead via newly created Facebook groups.

Philip Hunnisett, whose aunt was supported through the Community Hub, said:

“My aunt, who is almost 90 years old and lives in Eltham, was concerned how she would buy her food when the recent lockdown began. CACT came to her rescue… My aunt is extremely happy with the quality of the food delivered and the service provided by the volunteers who deliver it.”