Announced a few weeks ago as part of the EFL’s first-ever Week of Action, six regional winners have been named Your Move Community Club of the Season for the outstanding work they have delivered off the pitch. The winning Clubs are:
- Middlesbrough – North East & Yorkshire
- Blackpool – North West
- Derby County – Midlands
- Milton Keynes Dons – South East & East
- AFC Wimbledon – London
- Plymouth Argyle – South West & Wales
Each of the Clubs have made a significant difference to the lives of people living in their local areas, through projects designed to tackle societal issues such as loneliness, food poverty and education, amongst others.
The projects chosen, leading to Blackpool FC Community Trust’s successful application, were:
Holiday Activities & Food programme (HAF) Blackpool Co-ordination
Our HAF coordination aims to provide free activity provision and healthy meals to individually selected children and their families during Easter, Summer, and Christmas holidays.
Blackpool is one of the most deprived areas of the country, this contributes to the struggles that some children experience during school holidays and HAF provides an alternative to this. We ensure the children who attend our provision:
- Eat a healthy meal and take part in regular activity
- Take part in high quality, engaging and enriching activities to support the development of resilience, character, and wellbeing.
- Reduce their chances of becoming socially isolated during the holidays
- Increase their nutrition knowledge and make healthier choices
Last year we were selected as the Blackpool coordinator for HAF for the next three years, managing the delivery, the full budget and working in partnership with a host of third sector organisations to fulfil the aims of this programme across 32 sites. We have also expanded the provision to take place over every school holiday.
In 2021 we coordinated and supported the delivery of:
- Activities and food for 3,862 young people
- 15,484 meals
- Weekly food boxes to 1,136 families
Tangerine Together is a project to generate a Blackpool FC presence in the community and enhance people’s lives using the power of football.
We wanted to positively engage with as many local people as possible, to re-establish the connection with supporters and engage future generations of Blackpool FC fans in new and exciting ways. We hope to ultimately improve their health and wellbeing, social interaction, and life opportunities.
We have executed this through:
- See the Seasiders – rewarding our community participants and those from partner networks with the opportunity to attend a Blackpool FC home game, encouraging many to attend their first-ever football match.
- Future Tangerines – working with Blackpool FC and Blackpool Supporters Trust we provided every Year 2 pupil (1,200) with a Blackpool FC shirt, something they wouldn’t usually be able to purchase without our help.
- Christmas Campaign – Thanks to donations from fans, local businesses, organisations, Club staff and players, we were able to gift 1,700 primary school children who may have gone without on Christmas morning, with a present and card to open.
Also, as part of this initiative, on Christmas morning our dedicated staff volunteered to visit 20 of the most isolated members of our community, ensuring they had a gift, card, and somebody to talk to at this often-lonely time of the year.
Blackpool FC School
In September of 2021, we opened our very own Independent School, based at Bloomfield Road, aimed at Year 10 pupils that require an alternative to mainstream education. Since then, we have supported the most vulnerable youngsters in the town by providing a full-time curriculum to students who experience challenges in mainstream settings.
We are the first CCO in the country to open an Independent School for secondary school pupils. We provide a holistic approach to meet each student’s individual education, personal development, and well-being needs, to engage them in the long-term.
As part of their journey, they will attain at least five GCSEs at Blackpool FC School in the two years they attend and complete NCS in Year 11 to engage in Social Action and develop personal skills.
So far, the average attendance of the pupils has increased from around 70% at mainstream schools to 92% at Blackpool FC School. 85% of pupils are now exceeding their target grade in Maths, English and Science. To date, four students now want to pursue an apprenticeship and eight are looking to enrol onto a sports-related college course.
Ashley Hackett, CEO at Blackpool FC Community Trust said:
“It’s the first time Blackpool has been recognised in this way and is a huge testament to how far collectively the Community Trust and Club have come since Simon Sadler’s involvement in the Club.
The Team at the Community Trust continually go over and above to support our community and 2021 was by far our most impactful and successful year to date. With local and national lockdowns, the team continued to find alternate ways to support our community and we also were able to launch some inspiring new provisions to support even further, including our High School Hubs, Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) provision and BFC School, whilst sustaining all the other very important programmes, which have cemented our place as a key member of the Blackpool community.”
Blackpool FC Chief Executive Ben Mansford said:
“It’s fantastic that the Community Trust has been recognised for the incredible work that it carries out year after year.
The community is a vital part of any football club and the connection we have through the Trust is invaluable.
The past two years, in particular, have been very challenging with the restrictions during the pandemic, however, the Community Trust has adapted well to the situation and found inventive ways to continue its work – in conjunction with the Club.”
The winners will receive their awards at a special event hosted at the House of Commons on 19 April alongside project participants, staff and volunteers from each Club Community Organisation (CCO).
The overall winner for each category will be announced live at the EFL Awards, 24 April 2022.