Category Archives: Latest News

CEO: Our Road Map Back to Recovery

This past week has seen the Prime Minister release the governments Road Map for the nation to recover from this (hopefully) third and final lockdown, which has resulted in a number of us at Blackpool FC Community Trust spending a great deal of time once again watching the TV in great detail and reading the 60 page document a number of times.

It now gives us a great opportunity to plan the next phase for ourselves and set clear objectives for when a host of our programmes can return to some form of normality.

From 8th March, when our schools are allowed to open the doors to all pupils, we can also return to these establishments, in full, and begin to deliver our PL Primary Stars, Fit2Go, Unstoppable, High School Hubs, Children in Need, NCS and PL Inspires programmes in our schools. This date also allows us to reopen the doors to our BFC Sports College and bring back our BTEC and Degree students.

From the 29th March, we can begin to extend our PL Kicks and disability coaching programmes, with additional outdoor sessions and subject to facilities being open, we hope to restart our Walking Football sessions from this date too.

From 12th April, we can relaunch our Traineeship programme and also start to plan out our newly launched Pre-Traineeship programme, all focused on engaging our young people currently not in education or employment and putting them on a more positive employment path. Whilst we could have started the education earlier, an essential part of this programme is work experience, so having all retail and entertainments businesses open at this point means we can then make the full offer.

From 17th May, we can start to reopen our FitFans weight management programme at the stadium and finally from 21st June we can welcome our social groups back face-to-face and start to enjoy our Sporting Memories, Armed Forces and Extra Time participants coming back together, who haven’t had chance to do so, since last March 2020.

June can genuinely not come soon enough and being in a position to then, potentially, get all our programmes back to normal is a really exciting point.

The staff are following quite strict guidance, to keep themselves, colleagues and participants safe. We are now testing all staff twice a week at the stadium. Amazingly, we have been testing for eight weeks now, so 16 rounds of testing staff, and we are still yet to bring back a positive COVID test. (I hope I haven’t just jinxed us!).

This past week, during school half term, we also delivered six venues of activity camps, for targeted young people. Five ‘camps’ set across the town for children who receive free school meals, have been deemed vulnerable, or parents are key workers and one ‘camp’ at the football stadium for young people with disabilities to be used as a respite for parents.

Participants across the sites engaged in lots of fun and safe activities and sports and receive a hot meal each day. Staff really enjoyed the chance to get some normality back, but also did an amazing job of keeping the groups to government guidance and safety procedures. It’s really difficult to do our jobs, under the current pandemic circumstances, but the staff have once again risen to the top to find ways to continue to help our community.

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.”

CEO: “supporting some of our most at risk people in the town”

Over the past eighteen months we have been developing a whole new strand of work, focused on mentoring and supporting individuals who are having difficulties in their lives. 

This started last year with the launch of our youth mentoring project, Tower Above. The project focuses on supporting young people aged between eight and twelve who are engaging in anti social behaviour or are at risk of getting involved in crime. 

The idea here, is that introducing a one-to-one mentor, who can act as a positive influence, will use their youth work qualifications and experience to make young people aware of more appropriate behaviours and decisions they make. The project has already worked with over twenty young people and made significant differences to each ones lives. 

This was followed by our Divert programme, which works closely with our local police services and places a mentor from our team in the custody suite in Blackpool. Once an individual is booked in and put through the official procedures, they are then given the option to speak to our Divert Mentor, who then agrees a work plan with this person, for when they are released. From this point we then work with this individual, again on a one-to-one format, to make them aware of opportunities for them to change their behaviours and experiences. We make them aware of social groups, employment and education opportunities and also support them with any other supports they may need, which could include housing or social care. 

The next phase developed during the original Covid lockdown, where we were successful with an application to DCMS, to introduce a Youth Endowment project, which in our case uses digital platforms to mentor young people, identified by their schools or wider community partners, who are not engaging. The idea here is utilising Xbox and PlayStation games and other virtual methods to engage young people that would normally not get involved in face-to-face youth work. 

The project team has done a fantastic job of developing a host of methods to keep young people involved and are now piloting a new school based scheme of work working with groups to understand positive and negative behaviours. 

This is an area that we would probably have never investigated prior to the pandemic, but I think it’s fair to say, that most groups are now having to utilise digital and virtual platforms to keep in touch with participants and groups. I think it will genuinely remain a key feature of our support for many years to come. 

The final part that we have introduced to our Community Cohesion work has been the recently announced Project Adder, which has been coordinated by Blackpool Council and Lancashire Constabulary and includes a host of local partners, including ourselves.

Our role is to work with individuals suffering from drug addictions and utilise mentoring, sport and physical activity to help them go in a different direction with their lives and move them away from their addictions and crime. We have two members of staff, newly appointed, to support our local community, one focused on young people and one on adults. 

We still have really high hopes of this area of new work increasing even further over the coming years and whilst it comes with significant challenges, the impact it is having and can have are enormous. 

Myself and the team are really proud of our developments and the team actually delivering do an amazing job of supporting some of our most at risk people in the town. 

TRAINEESHIP: Euan’s Story

Euan Cygal aged 19 from Fleetwood, had previously been at Blackpool & Fylde College studying to be an electrician but for personal reasons didn’t finish the course which had caused his Mental Health to suffer.

Before coming onto the Traineeship programme, Euan felt very deflated and had no motivation after numerous set backs. Also due to COVID Euan had become very isolated at home so he came onto the course to start from fresh and try to find employment. 

Euan enrolled onto the 16 – 18 Traineeship at the beginning of September 2020. He had been referred from a family friend and his aim, from the very first time meeting, was to gain new skills and qualifications from the programme to help get back into employment.

Euan had mentioned he suffered from mental health issues but this had been caused from set backs which had caused him to fall into depression. Euan also mentioned he had lost his motivation to better himself and needed something to focus on so the Traineeship course, being a short 12 week programme and focusing on employability, was perfect for him.

Before coming to us he had already gained a Level 1 in Electrical Installations qualifications at Blackpool & The Fylde College. With his previous labouring experience, he wanted the opportunity to get back into this industry of work. As experienced traineeship staff, we were able to identify a suitable work placement which was tailored to his needs. Euan quickly settled into his work placement at Bri – Met Metal Fabrications.

Over a short period of time Euan has managed to gain a CSCS card, Level 3 First aid at Work and Level 1 Health & Safety at work qualification and English Functional Skills Level 2. These qualifications have been delivered through the community trust traineeship programme and will aid him when applying for jobs.

In a short period of time Euan has come along way in terms of his confidence and motivation. He feels much better in himself which has had a huge knock on effect with his mental health and allowing him to over come barriers that had previously had a huge impact on his life. Euan is very thankful for the opportunities the programme has given him and opened up lots of potential avenues such as an apprenticeship with Bri – Met. 

Craig Scott work force development Manager at Bri – Met said “Euan has done fantastically well throughout his 10 week work placement, showing lots of initiative and willingness to learn. He has got on well with all staff and as a reward for all his hardwork we have offered him an apprenticeship.”

The Traineeship programme is a government funded 12 week course which aims to move 16-24 year olds into work, apprenticeships or back into further education. The programme works with near work ready learners who may just need that little bit more support to help them achieve that goal.

Over the 12 week period trainees are supported to achieve; English and Maths functional skills if they don’t already have a grade C or above at GCSE, complete 110 hours of work experience in a industry of their choice, cover employability skills such as CV and cover letter workshops, interview skills and job search. As additional qualifications they do a Level 3 First Aid at Work and Level 1 Health & Safety at Work.

While you are here…

CEO: “Help a large number of our local children”

This week sees us focus on National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week and as part of that I wanted to highlight some of the ways the Trust continues to support our local young people. 

I was told by one of my colleagues a few years ago, that all our work is Mental Health and whilst Jason was absolutely correct, we have some provisions that focus on this subject a little more than others. 

As part of our continued support to local primary schools, we deliver a programme called Unstoppable, to every Year 6 pupil across the town. This project has been very kindly supported by BFC owner Simon Sadler for the past two years and focuses on supporting the pupils by utilising the book written by Dan Freedman, Unstoppable, to look at some very relevant topics affecting our young peoples lives, including; Transition from Primary school to Secondary school, relationships with family members, right and wrong behaviours and when is the right time to keep a secret. All topics a number of our children face every day, which heavily effect their lives and mental wellbeing. 

Last week, we also officially launched our new High School Hubs model which, with funding from the Local Opportunity Area Board, has allowed us to base a member of our staff in every secondary school, for two days every week. Their sole focus is to support pupils with their mental health, resilience and attitudes to school. The programme staff work with pupils identified in school, with one-to-one mentoring, small group sessions and also with in class support. It’s very much focused on making sure we find the correct support for each individual that is referred to us. 

From a community standpoint we have continued to deliver our Tower Above programme, which has seen some tremendous results in the past nine months. The project works with young people on a one-to-one basis, that are referred into the service, due to being at risk of engaging in crime and anti-social behaviour. The hope here is that our involvement will push each young person on an alternate path and into positive activities.

Some of the young people engaged have continued to attend sessions, despite the lockdown, as guidance allows and have found their engagement with the Trust has been their main outlet for exerting some positive energy and genuinely changed their behaviour at home and in school. 

We have also developed a fantastic timetable of activity for some of the most vulnerable young people in the town, via our PL Kicks programme, which allows them to come together in small groups to take part in physical activity and socialising with their peers. 

Whilst there are a great deal of other programmes we deliver, throughout the year, that help children’s mental health, the pandemic and numerous lockdowns have intensified this even more and we hope the amount of virtual and face-to-face offers that we have put in place can help a large number of our local children and once restrictions begin to ease, we will do even more.

#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.

CEO: “We are still supporting many young people throughout this pandemic”

The new lockdown has had an enormous effect on the work we do with schools to help our local young people. 

Usually our team regularly visit every school in the town, including all primary, secondary and special education establishments, delivering free provisions including Fit2Go, Unstoppable and PL Inspires, we then expand this offer with our PL Primary Stars programme and many other services including NCS and our Alternate Education Support.  

With schools having to close to the majority of pupils this has obviously meant we have had to change what and how we deliver some of these programmes, but in difference to the first lockdown last year, external providers have been allowed to continue to support schools, in person, that need the help. 

This has meant we continue to support PE services and PHSE sessions in a large amount of schools we deliver with in the primary setting, still attending throughout the week and our support in special schools has continued in most settings, either in person or with virtual sessions, similar to how many follow Joe Wicks. 

We have also launched a new programme in local secondary schools, which focuses our attentions to attending each of the eight schools in Blackpool, for two days a week, to focus on pupils mental health, build resilience and support with general welfare. 

This programme launched on 4th January (not ideal timing, with a new lockdown announced that evening), but we have continued to attend six of the schools since then and deliver virtually in one of the others, making student welfare calls and delivering one-to-one mentoring.

It’s meant we are still supporting many young people throughout this pandemic and when large amounts of the country are generally panicked about our young peoples futures, we have tried to be practical and productive in making sure we continue to help, where we can, safely and appropriately. 

Did you know?

Next week is Children’s Mental Health Week. We deliver a range of programmes that help support positive mental health for your children across Blackpool:

Fit2Go | Unstoppable | Tower Above | Online Mentoring | PL Inspires