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.