Category Archives: Latest News

Crowned Champions 🏆

Blackpool FC Sports College Football Academy Students Crowned Champions of the EFL Community and Education Football Alliance North West 2 

Students from Blackpool FC Sports College have been eagerly awaiting the outcome of the EFL CEFA season 2019/20 since lockdown was announced in March this year. 

The CEFA Management Committee have ratified a decision to formally end the 2019/20 CEFA season. As a result, and as per the decision taken by League One and Two Clubs ratified by the EFL Board the final League standings have been finalised using an unweighted Points Per Game calculation. 

Blackpool were top of the table back in March after 10 games, with the only defeat of the season coming to Carlisle Utd. 

It was the plan to award all teams with their league winner’s trophy at the EFL Championship Play Off Final held at Wembley but due to the current climate, this will not be taking place unfortunately. 

Blackpool FC Community Trust plan to hold a virtual presentation evening with the students, who have just recently finished their studies for this academic year by remote learning. 

Tom Hanslip, captain of the team this year said, “There’s been a real togetherness with the team this year, which has made it far more enjoyable to play in. We have worked a lot harder for each other and been a lot more patient when things weren’t going our way”. 

The team have had an excellent season and the title is thoroughly deserved. 

Blackpool FC Sports College are still accepting applications for September for students.

While You’re Here:

Armed Forces Week 2020

For Armed Forces Week, 2020, Blackpool FC Community Trust and The Fylde Memorial Arboretum and Community Woodland group hosted a Football Remembers plaque unveiling in the Trust’s dedicated garden. This was part of the wider partnership work between the Community Trust and The Arboretum that has developed over the past 18 months that celebrates the links between Blackpool Football Club and the Armed Forces. However, because of social distancing regulations, the event was by invitation only but was also shown live via Facebook. 

In the build up to this unveiling, staff, volunteers and the Woodlands group worked hard to get the area ready for Armed Forces Week as the area dedicated to Blackpool FC had overgrown due to COVID19. However, now that restrictions have eased, this effort has resulted in the area being cleaned up, new flowers and trees planted and trees so that it now looks part of the Arboretum. The area has now been expanded with a lovely new picnic bench donated by John Jones for visitors to rest and enjoy the beautiful surroundings which will also be officially opened this weekend. 

Paul Binns, former soldier and who manages the Arboretum in a volunteer capacity, explained that “The Arboretum is for the whole of Blackpool and Fylde and we hope this partnership will help attract more people to come and visit. It is entirely managed and run by volunteers and more people visiting may mean that more people would like to get involved, which may help us establish our ambition of developing a Friends Group”

The day was a real success and was viewed by many people online. View here. Dave Maclean, Community Engagement Manager for the Community Trust, was delighted with how the day unfolded. “This project is just one element of our Armed Forces offer, which also includes weekly online meetings. The long-term plan is for this to become a dedicated veterans gardening group to provide light physical activity, friendship and tackle social isolation and loneliness, while at the same time supporting The Fylde Memorial Arboretum and Community Woodlandgroup in its future plans.

The Arboretum has been open since 2008 and its purpose is to provide the Service Associations and the people of Blackpool and the Fylde with a place of peace and beauty in which to remember their fallen comrades and loved ones and is the only one in the UK outside the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

While You’re Here

#Neverwentaway

Here is a quick round up of some of the work we have been involved in throughout the last few months. From competitions, online activities and virtual sessions. To extending our services, first team Blackpool FC Players getting involved and delivering food parcels to our local community.

For more stories please visit our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages.

Helped launch a new online resources for young people.

Loneliness Awareness Week

Steps towards our new normality

Supporting the Armed Forces

Volunteers’ Week

Poetry Competition Winners /Poetry competition information

Highlighting Volunteers

Community Hub

Beach Clean

PL Kicks goes online

Competition: Win Charlie Adam’s Boots! (now closed)

Helped our participants mental health: Mental Health Awareness Week

Blackpool FC and Community Trust working hand in hand

We commemorated the 75th anniversary of VE Day

Virtual Activities for children

Jimmy Armfield Memorial Trophy Tournament Activities

Keeping a smile on participants faces

Fit Blackpool participants completed their programme

Our education offer went online

Delivered food parcels to our local community

CEO: Start Your Career at Blackpool FC Sports College

Over the past few months we have been working very closely with education partners from Blackpool Council and a host of other providers to support young people, in Year 11, to understand the options available to them now that they have completed their secondary education career.

I proudly sit on the town’s ‘Opportunity Area’ partnership board, which is a group of professionals brought together to support the towns education provision.

Blackpool is one of 12 areas in the country that was given this funded provision three years ago, to try and make a difference to giving our young people the best opportunities we can.

A host of provisions have been developed, centred on career journeys, additional education supports and even school holiday programmes that focus on giving children that receive free school meals a lunch or dinner when they are not at school, whilst taking part in positive activities. 

All the above became even more important in the next phase of our recovery from COVID-19. 

A very exciting improvement to the offer is a new website that has been developed by the OA (opportunity area) team, which is a website called Start in Blackpool.

Start in Blackpool is a free digital platform designed to support each pupil’s individual career journey and prepare them for employment. The online Blackpool Careers Journey forms part of the learning platform and is now live on the website. It offers a series of short courses for young people to boost their employability training as well as improve their skills and knowledge.

The priority, in the first instance, is to target vulnerable young people who are at risk of ending up not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Pupils will benefit from a wide variety of resources from education providers and be able to learn about future careers as well gaining an insight into the vast job opportunities available across the Fylde coast.

The main aim is to improve outcomes for children and young people from education through to employment. This means that children should be well prepared to start school by the time they are aged five, be able to achieve their full potential whilst at school and college and be well-informed to make ambitious choices about their future as adults.

We have been involved in shaping the content of the website and trying to help make sure the journey of each user is appropriate to that audience. We are now tasked with helping make sure every young person, parent and or carer and education establishments are aware of this service and to spread the word of this free resource.

A key reason for engaging in this service was also to make people aware of the opportunities we, at Blackpool FC Community Trust, have available to young people leaving school via our BFC Sports College. Our provision has existed for more than seven years now and continues to increase in success each year.

As a progression for school leavers our offer includes BTEC education programmes, for all learning levels (Level 1, 2, 3 and extended diploma) in Sports Studies, with an amazing and unmatched enrichment available via our Football Academy or Sports Coaching options. 

Students get the opportunity to study a full time college education programme in the unique setting of a professional Football Club. The aim of each course is to equip young people with the knowledge, skills and expertise to build a career within the sports, fitness and leisure industry.

To find out more information, please go to the Start in Blackpool website or Blackpool FC Sports College.

We are still delivering virtual open sessions and sign up sessions, but have the full intention to open and deliver face to face education from September, in our brand new BFC Sports College facility at Bloomfield Road Stadium. 

We also have a Foundation Degree option for young people looking to continue higher education, as an alternative to going away to University. Based predominantly at Bloomfield Road stadium for lectures, seminars and tutorials, you can study for your degree locally.

Delivered in partnership with the University of South Wales (USW) and EFL Trust, our two-year Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching and Development provides the opportunity for you to gain an industry recognised coaching award while being affiliated to Blackpool Football Club.

This award winning course provides you with the skills and qualities that are required to work within a professional football club community department or national governing body (e.g. The FA) in areas such as social inclusion, community coaching and football development.

In my opinion, there is genuinely no better education offer available locally for people that want a career in Sport. The support, education offer and enrichment opportunities alongside working in a leading sport and leisure charity puts us above the rest, so please do get in contact for further information.

Blackpool Opportunity Area launches online careers support

An online careers package has been launched by the Blackpool Opportunity Area to support Year 10 and 11 pupils and provide guidance on training, further education and the world of work.

Start in Blackpool is a FREE digital platform designed to support each pupil’s individual career journey and prepare them for employment.

The online Blackpool Careers Journey forms part of the learning platform and is now live on the website. It offers a series of short courses for young people to boost their employability training as well as improve their skills and knowledge.

Created by careers guidance company U-Explore, the courses have been tested with professionals and pupils from Educational Diversity.

The priority in the first instance is to target vulnerable young people who are at risk of ending up not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Pupils will benefit from a wide variety of resources from education providers and be able to learn about future careers as well gaining an insight into the vast job opportunities available across the Fylde coast.

The online Blackpool Careers Journey is funded by the Blackpool Opportunity Area. Blackpool is one of 12 Opportunity Areas set up by the Department for Education to improve education standards and help every child and young person in the area to reach their full potential.

The main aim is to improve outcomes for children and young people from education through to employment.

This means that children should be well prepared to start school by the time they are aged five, be able to achieve their full potential whilst at school and college and be well-informed to make ambitious choices about their future as adults.

The Blackpool Opportunity Area has three priority areas including raising attainment in Blackpool’s schools, supporting vulnerable children to stay in education, and improving advice and support for young people when moving between schools/colleges and into work.

The programme is now in its fourth year of funding and will run until August 2021. 

Mike Taplin, Blackpool Opportunity Area Delivery Lead, said: “This new digital facility provides a fantastic opportunity for the young people in our community to access high quality careers information, advice and guidance, as they start thinking about their futures in Year 11, making urgent decisions about their next steps.

“Despite the challenges that the lockdown has brought, we want to prepare year our older pupils for their next steps, whatever their ambitions. 

“We want to encourage young people in Blackpool at this stage in their education to make full use of the excellent courses available to support their career journey. 

“We are striving to provide young people with the opportunities to thrive and make a success of their lives which is why we are confident that Start in Blackpool will help our young people as they plan for their futures in these very challenging times.”

Matt Peters, Managing Director of U-Explore Ltd, said: “We are delighted to add virtual learning to the successful Start in Blackpool web resource. 

“We have been inundated with support from education providers, employers and other stakeholders in the town to create something truly ground-breaking. 

“Employers are providing exciting virtual work experience opportunities with hands on tasks and video instruction that suits the YouTube generation and students receive certificates to help their onward progression. The platform will grow over the coming months and be something the town can be justifiably proud of.”

Cllr Kath Benson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Schools, Education and Aspiration, added: “The online Blackpool Careers Journey provides young people in Blackpool with an opportunity to learn more about employers, higher education and apprenticeships as well as businesses within the local area and to make informed decisions about their future careers.”

For more information on the Blackpool Careers Journey, visit careersjourney.startinblackpool.com

CEO: Continuing to support those in isolation

This past week has been National Loneliness Awareness week, so I thought I would explain some of the work we have done to help those in need in Blackpool over the past few months.

I’ve spoken a lot about how we have changed our delivery to suit the circumstances and this has been the case for our Extra Time, Sporting Memories, Get Set to Go, Veterans Coffee Mornings programmes and many more too.

These programmes normally focus on the isolated people in our community, more than 9 million people in our country are either always or often lonely. We’ve found that more than 17% of older people go for two weeks without speaking to someone, 11% more than a month!

These statistics cause great concern for us and in an area like Blackpool, we have a large number of people who fall into this category.

We know that being in this category also brings significant risk of other health issues, including heart disease, stroke, falls, depression, Alzheimer’s and sleep problems, which all can result in earlier deaths.

With this in mind, these people have become a priority and we have delivered a host of provision throughout the past three months including; online Quiz’s every Friday evening on Facebook live, our team have developed activity packs for people at home to complete, including Sporting Memories resources, spot the ball activities and many more football related games.

We have developed a GetSet2Talk programme, bringing participants together digitally, who would normally come together to play football to improve their mental health. This past week, our group came together for a fancy dress meeting on Zoom, which from our picture shows some very interesting costumes.

We have delivered Health visits, to residents door steps to break up their day and show a friendly face. Our football club directors and first team players have called many of our fans and season ticket holders to have a chat, and our Community Engagement Officer Dave Marsland has called more than sixty people every week, to check on them and have a chat too.

These are all examples of how we have tried to reduce isolation in the period and we plan to enhance this in the short and long term future. We hope to announce a new programme very soon, that will incorporate an extension of calling people, writing to local residents, visiting door steps, developing more virtual social groups and also finding ways to develop intergenerational meetings to get our young people to support our older generation through social action. 

We have a strong vision for developing new social prescribing techniques, to get the community to improve their own mental and physical health, and this is an example of being able to utilise the power of the Football Club brand and brings an attention no one else can bring.

We also hope as restrictions continue to be relaxed, that we can start to phase back some of our community groups and start to bring people back together, safely.

The pandemic has brought significant issues and stress to the organisation, but it has also allowed us time to review and learn new ways to engage our community and we hope to implement new plans and strategies in the coming months.

I’d like to close this week with adding, that if you ever feel lonely or know somebody that does, please pass on our helpline numbers. There is always somebody available to help and we may also be able to link you to services that can help even further. 

Call anytime during the week between 8:30am and 5:30pm on 07939446367 or 07939156297. We’re here to chat!

CEO: More back to work

As schools begin to reopen in Blackpool, we have offered our support for staff to attend and provide some help with their delivery. 

Some of our PL Primary Stars team have stepped up to visit some of our local primary schools and restart our delivery of PE and Physical activity for the children now attending their schools again. 

It’s a shame some schools have requested we delay attending their establishments, whilst they continue to work through their own safety procedures and risk assessments, which I must admit, from doing these myself for our charity and our facilities, are extremely difficult to put together and rely on staff to follow with common sense.

We will also be re-establishing our Unstoppable programme, our mental health programme, for year 6 pupils to address an number of key issues including; transition to secondary school, relationships at home and in the community and association with gangs and knife crime. The programme was kindly funded this season by BFC owner Simon Sadler and his company Segantii Capital Management and becomes even more important in the current and future climate. 

We will deliver the project to some schools virtually, so there will be no need to visit the establishments (at the schools wishes), but delivery with the Dan Freedman book will attempt to look as similar as possible as being in the classroom.

The members of our team returning to support schools will also start to develop new digital content to help our usual participants still at home and we will share information as soon as we can.

In the coming weeks we will also start to reintroduce some of our outreach activities and are working really closely with Blackpool Council and Revoelution to support with delivering some online and on the street detached work with young people and will begin building information on where young people are gathering and what type of provision they would engage in, so that we can develop them to be safe and within government guidance under the umbrella of PL Kicks.

We will also now be able to finally launch our new youth work project Tower Above, which was set to start in March, which works closely with a number of local organisations and our local Families In Need service, to identify young people that need some 1-to-1 help before they engage in negative and unlawful behaviour, so that we could put them on a positive pathway.

We already have a number of referrals, ready to be worked with and now seems the most appropriate and safe opportunity to get the team out and working with these young people.

Over the past week, I have been working with our management team to develop a strategy and now the operation plans for our charity to Build Back Better and we collaboratively believe now is the time to not take the easy option and keep all staff on furlough and start to bring back even more of our team to help our community in a time that it is needed more than ever.

This is a really tough thing to balance, as we have seen significant financial loses in this period, worth more than £370,000, so balancing doing the right thing and maintain a level of financial security is crucial.

Our mission is to develop diverse community programmes and partnerships, to give the best opportunities to the people of Blackpool and our vision is to build a healthier, active and more work ready community, so there is no better time than now for us to stand up and provide our support, where we can.

We hope to continue to build on this start and continue to implement more of our existing provisions as soon as possible and also to investigate new ways we can help our local residents.

As part of this new strategy development, one thing that became apparent is that 77% of our workforce come from or live in the local area. I believe this is integral to having a charity that is focused on Blackpool and the more born and bred employees we have builds a greater desire and drive to help.

As part of this step towards our new normality, this week we reintroduced some staff back into our office, which has been refocused and made appropriate for a significantly less amount of the team to attend at the same time. Our reasoning for doing this now is to build on the collaborative work the team would do in a usual environment and start to work collectively to redevelop and refocus the organisation. This has proven a great and safe success this week, with new and revised ideas already flying around the room. Staff returning to the office space have this week been surveyed and asked if they now felt comfortable to come back to work, which 100% responded yes and 100% felt the facilities had been amended appropriately to remain safe and happy to enter the building. 100% felt they were now able to collaborate better with colleagues to plan for the future and 80% agreed it had improved their own personal mental health, the other 20% felt their mental health hadn’t suffered.

NEW Minibus before lockdown

DM Thomas Foundation for Young People and Blackpool FC Community Trust – Working together to break down transportation barriers so all young people can attend activities and courses, regardless of disabilities. 

Last year, DM Thomas Foundation granted Blackpool FC Community Trust £20,250 to purchase a minibus with disabled access to support our plans to expand our inclusive provision. The promise was that it would enable hundreds of disabled children and young people in Blackpool, or those living with a longstanding illness, to improve their physical and mental wellbeing and alleviate feelings of exclusion. The initiative was discussed by the Grants Committee, and by the trustees, whom all recognised that the bus would add significant value to their existing inclusion work.

The grant/support has been possible thanks to voluntary fundraising for the DM Thomas Foundation for Young People from Hilton hotels across the UK.  

Karen Anderson MBE, ambassador for the DM Thomas Foundation, visited the project and said: 

“I met with Ashley Hackett, CEO of the Charity, based at Blackpool Football Club.

Although I was aware of the Community Trust, I have never really had any insight into exactly how much they do in the Community, as they have previously never approached DMT for support. They do incredible work, so inspiring!

Blackpool FC is at the very heart of the community, where their Community Trust team are based. They offer a whole range of opportunities and programmes for young people to improve their quality of life through Physical Activity, Educational and Employability, Health and Wellbeing. I had no hesitation in highly recommending this grant, seeing first-hand what they do for young people in this community.”

Simon Sheehan, Director of the DM Thomas Foundation for Young People said: 

“Through our grants programme we are able to support some amazing local and national youth causes like an accessible minibus to use for inclusion activities. We have been continually impressed by the work of Blackpool FC Community Trust and the specialist support it provides to children with disability.” 

Ashley Hackett, CEO of Blackpool FC Community Trust said:

“Being a charity it’s tough to be able to support everybody in the way that we would like. With the help of the DM Thomas Foundation we are now able to transport even more young people to and from our sessions that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to attend.”

If you can support Blackpool FC Community Trust in any way. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Keeping People Connected

We are proud to host a range of armed forces programmes within the community. This includes serving personnel, families, veterans and families of veterans.

Within our sessions, veterans have the chance to engage with other members of the armed forces community, providing an opportunity to rediscover the unique camaraderie of serving soldiers. This includes coffee mornings, breakfast clubs, walking and running football, and the opportunity to represent Blackpool FC in veterans competitions against other clubs in the NW.

Due to COVID19, face to face community provisions have had to be suspended. However, continuing to keep participants connected is something we have endeavoured to do throughout this challenging time.

Next week is Loneliness Awareness Week which is a week dedicated to understanding and encouraging conversations about loneliness.  Throughout the last few months, in addition to the Community Hubs we have been supporting to help provide local people with food parcels and health and well being checks, we have continued to keep in touch with our participants through online sessions, virtual discussions, phone calls and Live Facebook video walks on a Tuesday and Saturday mornings.  If you would like to take part, please contact: Dave.Marsland@bfcct.co.uk

Furthermore, Marianna Mitchel and Anthony Finch, who both volunteer for the Community Trust through our Veterans programmes, have been down to work on the Fylde Memorial Arboretum and Community Woodland.  Blackpool FC & Blackpool FC Community Trust are in partnership with the Woodlands Trust and National Football Museum and have planted trees to commemorate the sacrifice of five former players. 

George Elmore, Arthur Evans, William Fiske, Benjamin Green and Fred Griffiths were all players who represented Blackpool Football Club but sadly, along with thousands of others, fell during WWI.  

Unfortunately, the area dedicated to Blackpool FC’s fallen soldiers had been left unattended and overgrown due to COVID19.  However, now that restrictions have eased, both volunteers and staff have been down on separate occasions to clean up, plant new flowers and make plans to do this on a much more regular basis. 

The Arboretum’s purpose is to “provide the Service Associations and the people of Blackpool and the Fylde with a place of peace and beauty in which to remember their fallen comrades and loved ones” and is the only one in the UK outside the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

For those wishing to visit the beautiful five and a half acre site, see the players dedication plaques and trees, you can find the Arboretum in the fields next to Moor Park School on Moor Park Avenue in Bispham, Blackpool. 

In the future we hope to create a gardening group so please keep your eyes peeled for more information on how you can get involved.

While You’re Here: