CEO: Importance of Volunteers

This past week has been National Volunteers Week, so I wanted to use this space to talk about the massive importance volunteers have played on our charity and how they help us to help more people in our Community.

Our voluntary team almost has a two pronged attack to it, the first is the host of young people, that utilise our V100 programme to gain experience and receive coaching qualifications in return to help build their CV and potential for employment in the sport, leisure and teaching industry and we have lots of examples of people that have utilised this to the best effect.

One example is a young man called Jack King, who has been in full time education with the Community Trust for over five years (through his BTEC and Degree qualifications) throughout this time, Jack has also volunteered with the Trust on a number of different programmes and now works for the Community Trust as part of our PL Primary Stars team, improving the quality of PE delivered to primary schools in Blackpool.

The other side to our volunteer team are people from our local area, that want to help. These people support our delivery team, by attending sessions and making sure our participants get the best experience we can give them.

One example of this is a young man called Bradley Baylis. Brad is a fanatical Blackpool FC fan, has been through the Community Trust education system and now supports our Community team to deliver a host of provision including Walking Football, Sporting Memories and PL Kicks. He has always given his time to help others and is a great example for young people to follow. Brad was also involved in raising more than £2,200 for the Trust and other local charities through a number of fundraising events this past year, which include a programme fair at Bloomfield Road and running from Scarborough to Blackpool too.

Another really inspiring individual is local veteran Marianna Mitchell, who originally started attending our veterans coffee mornings as a participant. Maz’s personality is the type that she almost instantly wanted to do more and became a leading member of the groups and took on additional time and responsibility to help other vets to not feel as alone or isolated. Marianna also helped last year, with her son, with part of the clean-up of Bloomfield Road, once the receivers entered the Football Club. She spent three days polishing all the trophies our great club had accumulated and made our FA cup trophy look brand new.

These are three example of wonderful people in our town, that the Community Trust is greatly proud to be associated with and significantly appreciate the time and support they give to help others.

I also wanted to make aware the fantastic support over the years we have received from the Blackpool FC first team players, who regularly give up their time to support our participants by attending sessions, getting involved in physical activities, sharing their experiences with our BFC Sport College Students and taking time to give positive and impactful messages. In 2019 our first team players made 312 appearances in Community activities.

My final point on volunteers is the group we helped to form as part of our Walking Football programme. Whilst the groups have always attended and supported our recreational community sessions taking place every week, a large number formed the Senior Seasiders Blackpool Walking Football team, unfortunately the team was formed whilst the protests were taking place, meaning they did not feel comfortable competing full time under the umbrella of Blackpool FC and actually were supported by AFC Blackpool. We respected their decision and continued to support and maintain contact and the group have coordinated a fantastic group/team that have travelled and conquered local, national and continental competitions over the past few years, all whilst enjoying themselves and building some amazing bonds an friendships.

Over the past few months we have discussed the group becoming Blackpool FC Senior Seasiders and finally representing the town in the great tangerine shirt. Just prior to lockdown everyone thought this way the way forward and we are delighted to now have them back in their rightful home. It’s great to have this group representing the club, whilst also making sure we collectively support AFC Blackpool.

Again, all of this would not have been possible without all the volunteers that support the teams and the committee (which I now sit on) to shape and coordinate the bunch.

I hope this week’s article has showcased some examples of how well supported we are and to finish with saying thank you to all the volunteers that help our charity.