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BFCCT Launches New Programme to Help Young People Find Employment

Blackpool FC Community Trust is one of six EFL Football Clubs that are part of an exciting new programme providing 18-24 year olds with the key skills and experience to find employment.

The EFL Trust’s Training Ground programme is part of a new partnership with the Youth Futures Foundation that will target young people that are really struggling to get a foothold in the workplace. The initiative is aimed at 18-24 years olds that are furthest from the workplace and will help participants by enabling them to take on new education, employment or training opportunities leading to long term career progression.

Adrian Tallon, EFL Trust’s Head of Education and Employability said: “This is a unique opportunity for young people to overcome barriers and unlock their potential.  They will be supported through our Training Ground programme which takes a holistic approach to employment. The programme provides practical support and training, alongside mentoring and wellbeing activities that will increase the confidence and overall wellbeing of participants.”

The Youth Futures Foundation was established to find, fund, support and evaluate programmes which help young people to move into meaningful work. Unemployment amongst 16-24-year-olds is currently four times as high as any other age group; those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds face the biggest challenge in getting a job. 

Youth Futures Foundation’s Chief Executive, Anna Smee, commented: “We are delighted to support EFL Trust’s Training Ground Programme. Youth Futures Foundation is committed to a society where all young people have equitable access to good quality jobs, by identifying ‘what works’, investing in good practice and initiating new ways of working – to ignite systems change. This partnership will support our ambitions and help to deliver our vision.

The Training ground programme presents an opportunity to gain accredited skills and qualifications combined with increased personal development, culminating in work placement. Additional support will be provided throughout by a dedicated mentor and a targeted health and wellbeing programme. Skills wise the programme will include the development of English & maths functional skills, digital skills, health & safety, money management and customer services. The programme will also include workshops covering personal development areas such as resilience, interpersonal and employability skills as well as improving the participant’s physical and mental health. 

Community Trust CEO, Ashely Hackett said: “Finding a job for a young person in Blackpool can be extremely difficult, even pre-COVID. Thanks to the EFL Trust and the Youth Futures Foundation we can now support 18-24 year olds, that are furthest from employment, and give them the skills they need to take those first steps into the world of work. Over a number of years our Employability programmes, in particular our Traineeships, have been a great success in Blackpool and having the chance to extend this area of work and offer it to more individuals is fantastic.”

One young person who already benefitted from a similar EFL Trust Employability programme is Dominic Thicketts from Blackpool. Before Dom attended the 12-week traineeship programme with Blackpool FC Community Trust, he was unemployed and always at home feeling isolated, lacked confidence and had very low self-esteem. As part of the traineeship, he successfully passed Maths, English and First Aid qualifications and undertook a work placement at Tesco. Subsequently Dom successfully gained employment with Blackpool Pleasure Beach. He comments, “I’ve never been employed and, so it was a really big step. However, Blackpool FC Community Trust helped me with more aspects of my life than I could have actually hoped for, and I want to make them proud with what I’m going to accomplish.”

#TEAMTALK

Blackpool Football Club Community Trust and Blackpool FC in accordance with the English Football League have launched a new session called ‘Team Talk’. Team Talk urges supporters to talk and stay connected online, keeping the conversation around mental health going.

Throughout the lockdown period Team Talk aims to engage with fans and discuss issues surrounding mental health especially through these uncertain times.

Blackpool Football Club Community Trust are delivering ‘Team Talk’ through Zoom. Live events are created on a weekly basis with occasional visits from past and present Blackpool FC Footballers. They are on hand to speak with supporters and together discuss situations effecting mental health and daily routines. Fans can pose questions to the players and share some of their experiences at the Club. How are they coping with lockdown outside of the game? What motivational techniques can you share to enhance our mental well-being during this testing period?

Togetherness is the key to combating mental health and Blackpool FC’s Team Talk is certainly a good starting point.

This week saw current Blackpool FC players, Chris Maxwell and James Husband, join in on our Thursday evening session. Chris said:

“We were really interested to hear what the group had to say. Mental health is an important discussion to have.

“Forums like this are vital because sometimes people don’t have the immediate support network that others do. This gives the opportunity for everybody involved to support each other, and that can make a real difference.

“I was able to offer some of my experiences and honest insight into how I deal with things in my own life, and we also had some tricky football questions to answer, too. I think everybody enjoyed it.”

Our participants loved getting the opportunity to speak with some Blackpool FC Stars, one participant, Sue said:

“It was good to listen in on their thoughts. It is fascinating how some football players struggle as well. Sometimes you don’t realise how some people find it hard, never know what goes on behind closed doors.

Another participant, Scott said:

“Maxi [Chris] got me a bit, it’s a weird thing to know even more successful people have their own struggles too.”

Not everybody has access to the internet, nor are they ‘tech savvy’ and able to use applications such as Zoom. BFCCT have many other sessions available from doorstep visits (current safety measures in place) to simple welfare phone calls. There are fitness programmes which include mobility aids and a training plan to do at home. There is a ‘Sporting Memories’ session where a person will receive a special box of memorabilia and action plan to help with mental health and combating loneliness.

If you know somebody who could benefit from an engagement such as the ones mentioned, then please get in touch with Blackpool Football Club Community Trust at info@bfcct.co.uk.

Helplines and listening services

Samaritans: www.samaritans.org 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 116 123 (free from any phone).

Shout: www.giveusashout.org For immediate support text SHOUT to 85258 to chat by text to a trained and supervised volunteer. Free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Mix: www.themix.org.uk provide essential support for under 25’s including telephone counselling, 121 chat and crisis messaging.

Mind: mind.org.uk InfoLine: 0300 123 3393 M-F 9am-4pm

The Hub of Hope is the world’s first of its kind mental health database bringing grassroots and national mental health services. Using the location of web browser or mobile devices, the cloud- based web application allows anyone, anywhere to find the nearest source of support for any mental health problems. https://hubofhope.co.uk/

Football clubs to mentor hundreds of young people hit hardest by pandemic

· Football clubs in some of the country’s hardest hit towns and cities join forces to support young people

· Mental health and wellbeing focus so pupils are ready to catch up on lost learning and do not fall behind

· Funded through Government’s expanded Opportunity Area programme to level up outcomes for the most disadvantaged

Hundreds of young people hit hardest by the pandemic are being offered mental health and wellbeing support by six football clubs to help them stay engaged in education so they can catch up on lost learning and raise their aspirations.

Through the Government’s Opportunity Areas programme, Stoke City, Port Vale and Blackpool Football Clubs are working with pupils aged 11 to 19 who are disadvantaged, vulnerable or at risk of falling out of education, employment or training. 

These schemes will give young people a way to talk through their anxieties and fears with trained mentors in one-to-one sessions at school and college, or online during the period of national restrictions, as part of the support on offer. They will help them find ways to overcome any obstacles, build their confidence and resilience so they are ready to learn and do not fall behind. Many of these pupils are vulnerable and can still attend school along with key worker children.

Funded by Stoke-on-Trent and Blackpool Opportunity Areas, the pastoral support is being delivered through the football club’s community teams, building on their existing outreach work which has made them a recognised brand in their community. Each football club is working with another in a different area to set up similar mentoring schemes and help even more young people. In Stoke-on-Trent Opportunity Area, Stoke City is working with Rotherham United and Port Vale with Lincoln City, while in Blackpool Opportunity Area, Blackpool is working with Fleetwood Town in Lancashire.

Minister for the Opportunity Areas Michelle Donelan said: 

“Our focus throughout the pandemic has been to protect the most vulnerable in our society, creating new opportunities that secure their future success in spite of the challenges we face as a country. 

“It is fantastic to see investment from our Opportunity Areas programme benefitting these schemes in Stoke-on-Trent and Blackpool, supporting young people’s mental health and wellbeing so they are ready to catch up on lost learning and do not fall behind.

“By sharing their resources and expertise with clubs in Fleetwood, Rotherham and Lincoln, even more secondary pupils can build life skills like confidence and resilience to tackle obstacles and thrive.”

During the period of national restrictions, mentoring is happening face-to-face or online, ensuring the most vulnerable continue to get the support they need whether learning at home or school.

  • In Blackpool an existing mental health and mentoring programme is being broadened, with the club’s ‘high school hub officers’ working for two days a week in all eight mainstream secondary schools in the town so they can provide in person or online one-to-one support for as many pupils as need it. During lockdown, the club is providing online training for two new mentors at Fleetwood Town FC as well as sharing resources to help them identify and support around 75 pupils at Fleetwood High School.
  • In Stoke-on-Trent, Stoke City is helping up to 25 secondary pupils with emotional and mental health support so they are ready to catch up on time out of the classroom and do not fall behind in their education. Each referred pupil has twice weekly sessions with a mentor either remotely or face-to-face to identify and address key areas of concern and build resilience. The club is working with Rotherham United FC to set up a mentoring scheme to support around 10 pupils.
  • In Stoke-on-Trent, Port Vale’s mentoring co-ordinator will assess provision across the city to identify key gaps and establish a mentoring network to support young people and their families who have been impacted by the pandemic. The club is also working with nine secondary schools to offer support to around 124 pupils, helping them overcome challenges so they stay engaged with their learning, avoid criminal exploitation, raise their aspirations, and take advantage of career opportunities. Port Vale is now working with Lincoln City to share resources and identify pupils in two secondary schools that need extra support.

The football clubs from outside the Opportunity Areas were chosen based on a range of criteria related to disadvantage and established relationships between clubs.

It follows confirmation of funding allocations for the fourth year of the Opportunity Areas programme last July, including a share of £1 million specifically to support ‘twinning’ work and expand the programme’s reach. Stoke-on-Trent and Blackpool Opportunity Areas have each invested £100,000 into these football club projects.

Selina Hayes, Head of Education and Employability at Blackpool Football Club Community Trust, said:

“The High School Hub programme has been a long-term ambition of ours and it is fantastic to have been able to roll the programme out with the support of the Opportunity Area. 

“Having mentors in every school allows us to provide regular support for the most vulnerable pupils, not only to achieve academically, but to become much more confident and ambitious individuals ready to progress through education and life.”

The Department for Education is investing £90 million in 12 Opportunity Areas over four years with £1 million set aside to ‘twin’ with other places so they can improve outcomes and opportunities for even more young people. 

The fourth year of the programme is supporting young people hit hardest by the pandemic and work is underway to share more broadly the expertise and successes from the programme so far to help other places to overcome similar challenges.

EFL CLUBS AND CLUB COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS TO PROVIDE HUNDREDS OF JOBS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

500 young people will have the opportunity to work in an EFL Club or Club Community Organisation as part of the government’s Kickstart scheme. 

Over 65 EFL Clubs have signed up to be involved, offering six-month work placement jobs roles to young people aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit – with the aim to give young people the opportunity to build their skills in the workplace and to gain experience to improve their chances of finding long-term work.

Vacancies at Clubs and their charitable arms will include business admin, sports coaches, marketing, ground staff, finance, youth work, graphic design, film and photography and HR and data administration roles.

Kickstart gives young people the opportunity they need to get their foot on the ladder and a foothold in the world of work. Nationally, the scheme has already created more than 38,000 vacancies across the UK and received over 4,000 applications from employers. Tens of thousands more jobs are expected in the coming months.

The scheme targets young people who have been hit especially hard by Coronavirus and Kickstart focuses on giving them the best possible chance of getting a job.

Under the scheme, the EFL Trust, the charitable arm of the EFL will be acting as a Gateway provider, bringing together a network of Football Clubs, Community Organisations and other partners, to provide a wealth of opportunities across the country for the out-of-work youngsters. 

Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said:  “It’s great to see the EFL Trust sign up to the Kickstart scheme, to nurture and support so many of our next generation of workers. This fantastic commitment will see nearly 500 young people take up a diverse range of roles, from working in finance and HR, to becoming a sports coach or marketing for a major club. 

“The Kickstart Scheme gives thousands of young jobseekers a chance to get on the jobs ladder – they’ll gain vital work experience, build a network of contacts and learn the value of earning a wage for themselves – as part of our £30bn Plan for Jobs helping people of all ages into work.”

Mike Evans, CEO, EFL Trust said:  “This impact of COVID-19 on our young people is clearly very significant and we are delighted to be able to offer opportunities to young people in our communities through the Kickstart programme. A key part of our strategy at the EFL Trust is to raise aspirations and realise the potential within our communities and a scheme like Kickstart enables us to have a significant impact on the young people who need out support most right now.”

Blackpool FC Community Trust will be opening up at least four positions, as part of the Kickstart scheme, once restrictions allow to enable the young people to get the best start to their employment term with us.

We are also acting as a government gateway for the Kickstart Programme. Kickstart gateways are organisations that act on behalf of local employers offering 29 or less vacancies by batching together applications and submitting them to the Department for Work and Pensions. They can help you with your initial application and some will support you in the training and development of your Kickstart worker.

The scheme provides organisations of all sizes, across the private, public and voluntary sectors with the opportunity to access a large pool of young people with potential.

On confirmation of the job start the employer will be paid £1,500 per job placement to support overhead costs and help to improve the participant’s employability i.e. on-boarding, mentoring and supervision etc. Funding available for each job will cover the relevant National Minimum Wage rate for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions, and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. If you are interested please get in touch via our website.

Our Sincere Condolences: John Wilson

It is with great sadnesses that one of our participants at our Grange Sporting Memories session John Wilson has sadly passed away with COVID.

John was 81 years old and a great sportsman in his time playing football, cricket and Tennis. He was a Blackpool FC season ticket holder and a lovely man.

Our thoughts go out to his wife Pauline, son Mark, daughter Jacqui and all his family and friends.

All donations to be made in Johns name will go to St Paul’s Church and Blackpool FC Community Trust via Mark Rae Funeral Directors, 11 Wood St, St Annes FY8 1QS

RIP John Wilson.

Our Sincere Condolences: Jim Morgan

2021 has started for the BFC Senior Seasiders Walking Football Group with the very sad news. Over 70’s squad stalwart, Jim Morgan, has lost his year long battle with cancer. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this time.

Jim was a no nonsense defender (an ex-Blackpool publican) who could look after himself with the younger players in our sessions, with a great eye for the right pass and a fierce shot from distance. He has a 100% record with penalties in competitions. He was a member of the winning squads of Very Senior Seasiders in both 2019’s competitions at The Wigan Invitational and the Greater Manchester League, Heywood.

Due to Covid restrictions the Senior Seasiders will be unable to attend Jim’s funeral at Lytham Crematorium this week but a donation will be made to Trinity Hospice in his name, with one of the annual Player Awards Trophies also to be named in his honour.

Jim pictured bottom left.

RIP Gentleman Jim.

CEO: Happy New Year!

After a two week break from the stadium, to spend some much needed time with my young family, I’d like to start this year’s column by wishing everyone in Blackpool and linked to our football club a very happy new year. Let’s hope 2021 proves to be a safe and prosperous year for all, that hopefully sees us get back to some form of normality very soon. 

My break has also given me time to reflect on 2020 and whilst the year was certainly the most challenging of my career, we also had some extremely successful periods which saw a number of new provisions developed, existing programmes sustained and most importantly no need to make any redundancies or cuts to our services, despite the financial and operational difficulties the pandemic caused, meaning we can continue to support our community. 

This hasn’t been the case at every football club charity and a large amount of this was possible here due to the continuous challenge our board of trustees maintain in making sure strict governance and a strong level of charitable security exist at all times, long before the issues of 2020, which has allowed us to build financial reserves, a very strong management structure and a fantastic delivery team. 

We have also built some great partnerships, which have allowed us to access significant amounts of funding and also allowed us to diversify our provisions this past year. Due to having a strong understanding of the needs of our community, we have been able to keep all staff working and haven’t utilised the furlough scheme since August. 

Some of our more significant successes this year have included;

  1. Record numbers of students enrolled onto our BFC Sports College this year, with almost 100 students now studying BTEC and Degree programmes with us on a full time basis.  
  2. National leader on recruitment and delivery of Autumn NCS with 471 young people completing the digital programme. The second highest had 250. 
  3. Developed a whole new strand of work in Community Cohesion, that focuses on youth work and mentoring young people who are at risk of engaging in crime. 
  4. Developed a whole new strand of work with primary schools, focused on PHSE (Personal, Health and Social Education), which we hope will expand even further in 2021. 
  5. Delivered an amazing Christmas Campaign, raising more than £82,000 to make sure all children receive a gift on Christmas Day. 

Despite being off for Christmas, a number of us had been working through the new restrictions and had planned for Blackpool being in Tier 4 and what that meant to us. 

It would of meant we could continue most of our services. However with the Prime Ministers announcement on Monday evening, we now find ourselves in another full national lockdown, which changes things significantly. 

We have had to close the offices down and all delivery spaces at Bloomfield Road and ask all staff to resume working from home, which for our work is very difficult to do, but at this time is the right thing. 

It also means we have this week now had to review all our services, contact funders and sort through staffs personal circumstances, to understand what we can and cannot do for the next six – twelve weeks. 

We will have to postpone all of our physical activity sessions, that take place face-to-face, but many of these groups; including sporting memories, vets, healthy hearts, PL Kicks will be offered virtual groups, to remain in contact. Our mental health Football sessions, GetSet2Go becomes GetSet2Talk again and will now meet virtually too. 

Our BFC Sports College now face the tough task of receiving their education virtually. Our team have made sure every student has a laptop at home, or we have sent them home with one of ours and our teachers will continue a normal timetable, educating the students with virtual classrooms in person, not just setting them work to do themselves each day. We are also developing a host of ways to keep the students engaged, with group sessions and professional workshops from ex pro footballers and other members of the profession that can support students to see opportunities to work in Football. 

We have unfortunately had to postpone the start of our next Traineeship programmes, for sixteen-to-twenty four year olds because we cannot get them into work placements, if all but essential shops and businesses are closed. We had already signed ten young people to start their course in February and losing this provision not only hampers the young peoples progression into work, it causes a large financial loss for the Charity. 

We are currently working with local primary schools to understand how/if we can still support them with our PL Primary Stars programme, Fit2Go and Unstoppable programmes and similar with secondary schools with our PL Inspires and our new mental health provisions. 

If the schools continue to need our support, staff will attend, either in person or virtually. 

Our Disability Inclusion team will also be digitising many of their sessions to keep in touch over this period for adults and we are working through plans to maintain activity sessions for our younger participants, which can continue in person. 

We are allowed to continue our youth work services, including Tower Above, which are needed now, more than ever before. So staff will meet their young people one-to-one and continue to support them through their needs and issues and similar for our Divert, United Together and Digital Youth work programmes. 

Our tackling isolation programme, Pool Together now becomes even more important. This will see staff make phone calls, door step visits and set up virtual groups for those most isolated and shielding, to try to make sure they have some contact with the outside world and maintain a willingness to reengage in programmes, once the lockdown is lifted. 

Hopefully it will be as close to the PM’s predication of late February as possible. 

I think this new lockdown has taken us all by surprise, when before Christmas there was no talk on a new variant and all the positive news about vaccinations was being sent out. 

We as Blackpool FC Community Trust will now adapt and develop as many ways as possible to support our Community and try to help keep peoples spirits high. 

Winter Grants for families struggling to pay gas, electricity and water

Citizens Advice Blackpool are working with Blackpool Council to offer Winter Grants to help local people pay for gas, electricity and water over the winter months.  Funding is targeted at families, vulnerable people and anyone in arrears with their utility bills.

If eligible arrears can be paid and you can be given advice on any other debt or financial worries you have.

Please use the referral form below and follow the instructions on it to return, if you think you are eligible:

Operation Christmas Day 2020

Christmas is an amazing time of year for most. However, some people may not have family and friends, and will not see anyone on Christmas Day. Here at BFCCT, we value every single person in the community and believe that no one deserves to celebrate Christmas alone. Thanks to funding from The EFL Trust and DCMS we been delivering a Tackling Loneliness Together project to offer support to those who might be socially isolated and lonely consisting of phone calls, garden gate visits, online social groups, and postal support. This has enabled us to create relationships with external partners such as Blackpool Coastal Housing, who have been able to refer individuals who are most at risk of being socially isolated and lonely. 

During a garden gate conversation, one of our participants mentioned that they send themselves a Christmas card, so that they have something to open at Christmas time, as they do not receive anything else. As this discovery was discussed in the office and members of staff from the Community Trust were taken aback by this admission, it was soon decided that we would offer garden gate visits to those in need on Christmas Day. Soon after, phone calls were made to our current participants and we soon discovered that this was a genuine need for some of the community and this was the motivation for the project. In total, we had 15 members of the community wanting a visit on Christmas Day. Staff were paired up and routes were developed for each pair meaning they could work efficiently.

After finding out that there was a real need for this programme, we wanted to supply a gift and cards for our participants. Boxes full of biscuits and treats, donated by Burtons Biscuits and Foxes, were wrapped up for our visits, as well as Christmas cards made by local SEND schools: Park Academy, Highfurlong and Woodlands school. 

On Christmas Day, Trust staff ensured that all government COVID guidelines were followed. Presents and cards were dropped off via a contactless drop off.

Nathan Davies (Community Health Officer)- With this year being so difficult, it has been a real eye opener for us all. I feel very fortunate to have lots of supportive friends and family, but due to the nature of my work I realised that not everyone was as lucky as I am. This was the motivation to help some of the community who may not have to opportunity to even see somebody on Christmas Day. After the visits were done, it was so rewarding to see so many faces light up when they opened their doors. This is a steppingstone for what could potentially be done in the future, to support those most in need. 

William (Participant)- I really look forward to my weekly phone calls with Brad. Having that phone call really does help with my mental health. I would not have normally seen anyone on Christmas Day so to see you guys is amazing. 

Alan (participant) – to see Nathan & Seb on Christmas Day was extremely special. In recent years I have spent Christmas Day on my own. This year, thanks to BFCCT I received cards, gifts, and a food parcel and thanks to Tangerine Angels, I was also able to enjoy a Christmas Dinner. The weekly phone calls I have had with Nathan during 2020 have significantly improved my mental health and it gives me something to look forward too each week. 

Festive Fundraiser Raises Incredible Amount

Blackpool Football Club’s festive fundraiser, in conjunction with the Club’s Community Trust, has raised an incredible £82,622.

We would like to say a huge thank you to all the fans, local businesses and organisations, staff and players for enabling us to raise this amount.

This means that the Trust can now go beyond its initial pledge of providing Christmas presents to at least 700-800 Primary School children in Blackpool who would have otherwise gone without.

Your donations, which totalled £41,311, vastly exceeded the fundraising target of £25,000 and will now be matched by the staff and partners of Segantii Capital Management, Simon Sadler and his wife Gillian, taking the overall amount generated to £82,622.

Thanks to your generosity we will now be able to supply:

  • 855 gifts to Primary School children in Blackpool;
  • 200 gifts to BetterStart Blackpool for children up to the age of four;
  • 168 gifts to Primary School children across other local areas, such as Thornton, Cleveleys, Poulton and St Annes; and
  • 241 gift vouchers to Secondary School children in Years 7 and 8 across Blackpool.

We will also continue to reach out to local schools and organisations to investigate ways of extending this initiative further.

Due to the incredible response, it is likely that there will be monies left over. We will ring fence these funds and utilise them to finance other initiatives for this group of children throughout 2021.

Owner Simon Sadler said:

“I would like to say a big thank you to everyone that donated. I am humbled by the way that the town and wider community has come together to support this initiative. It gives me an immense sense of pride to see our fans, local businesses and all at the Club and Trust, particularly in this most testing of years, working collectively to address these issues and helping us to go way beyond what we first envisaged.”

Community Trust CEO Ashley Hackett added:

“Never in my wildest dreams did I expect so many people to support our campaign. I would like to thank you all for your support and generosity. One of the most heart-warming parts has been reading everyone’s comments when donating.

“The fundraiser has become something much more successful than we expected and now gives us the opportunity to impact so many more children in our town and community.”