This week for myself has been about development and looking to the future. Normally this time of year brings a two day trip to St George’s Park for the EFL Trust National Conference, of which my favourite part is having time to spend with other football club charity leads to share best practice and compare the issues we face. It’s also a chance to get a full nights sleep for me, which is a valuable asset with two young children at home.
But this year the conference has been delivered online, across five days, full of some really interesting and insightful sessions. One point to raise is how often the many speakers have mentioned the fantastic work we are doing in Blackpool, including the new CEO of the NCS Trust Mark Gifford, CEO of Sport England Tim Hollingsworth and also the CEO of the EFL Trust Mike Evans. It makes me very proud to hear that the work our team does is thought of so highly across the country.
For the Trust, we have also seen the restart of our Walking Football sessions at Play Football and Lytham YMCA, which have been well received and we hope more of our regulars will understand why we have to implement the new booking system and will get booked on for the sessions very soon.
We have also restarted our weekly Get Set to Go session at Stanley Park, which are focused on supporting people living with mental health issues. We use Football as means for them to come together with their peers and develop positive experiences to improve their mental health.
We have had to adjust our BetterStart programme, which engages early years and pre-schoolers in physical activity to prepare them for school, and works with their families to cover ‘how to live a healthy lifestyle’. With nurseries not allowing external providers into their facilities, we cannot deliver this programme as is, so the team have developed information packs and guidance for the nurseries to follow to keep some engagement. These were delivered this past week.
Our Tackling Loneliness Together project, delivered in partnership with EFL Trust and funded by the DCMS has continued to support many people living at home on their own and given them a range of outlets to engage with our staff and other members of the community. The current funding stream finishes at the end of December, but we have already submitted two applications to continue this much needed work, which will hopefully see us extend this provision and continue to make phone calls, deliver virtual social groups, send letters and make doorstep visits to those in need.
Finally, we received the very sad news that one of our Tackling Loneliness Together participants, Peter Newbold, sadly passed away last Sunday. We were aware that Pete was living with terminal illness, even so, the news shook a number of our members of staff, who regularly received calls from him about how we could help more people in our town and how the work we were doing was keeping him going.
Stories like this really bring home the importance of our work, but also how much time and care our staff put in to our community. It really doesn’t get the recognition it truly deserves.