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19 January 2023

Football clubs nationwide showcase their community action

This is an important week for football’s nationwide community engagement. The English Football League (EFL) Trust’s week of action, now in its seventh year, is used to highlight work being done in the community by the 72 English football Club’s Community Organisations (CCOs) across all three leagues, with managers and players joining in with activities.

Organised by the English Football League’s charitable arm, this week showcases the power of football to create stronger, healthier, more active communities.

Within the Trust’s aims for cohesive community engagement, it has five main areas of focus: to help young people with their transition into adulthood; help groups who face disadvantage to achieve and progress; make our communities safer and more connected and support the integration of different communities and to deliver social action and volunteering opportunities.

Each individual club runs its own community engagement initiatives and the EFL are using this week to showcase the impact the clubs are having on the communities in which they operate. These activities range from mental health and addiction fitness sessions with Tranmere Rovers, and Burnley FC’s work with a Community Foodbank – the only football club-run foodbank in the UK. Blackburn Rovers are providing Walking Football sessions, with opportunities for both men and women and those who are suffering from Parkinson’s, while Reading Town FC run a Step 2 Success initiative. This programme uses the appeal of Reading Football Club to provide support for children in the Wokingham area as they move through the education system, particularly helping those who are marginalised or suffer from a lower than 90% attendance rate.

Substantial Impact
The impact and value that these community organisations are having is evident from the metrics highlighted in the EFL Trust’s most recent impact report, launched at a roundtable in Parliament with members of community, representatives from EFL and their CCOs and the Sport Minister, the Rt. Hon Stuart Andrew MP all present. The report details that 840,000 participants were engaged by the EFL club community work and 580,000 hours of sessions were delivered over 2021/22. The growth highlighted in the report demonstrates the ever-increasing importance and value of community engagement, with £865m of social value generated, up from £488m in 2019/20. This is the first time that social value has been attributed to EFL clubs’ work collectively and it quantifies the unprecedented impact that this work is having within surrounding communities regarding funding, staff, facilities, support and partnerships.

Paul Ince (pictured below), the manager of Reading FC highlighted football’s potential for social impact when he said: “We have a platform in football where we can affect people’s lives. Sometimes we get carried away with the importance of the football but with all the work that our Community Trust do on a daily basis, that should never be the case.”

Photo by Michael Zemanek/Shutterstock (13713646cb) Oliver – Steps to Success – Oliver meets Reading’s manager Paul Ince. EFL Week of Action, Reading, Football, Select Car Leasing Stadium, Reading, UK – 16 Jan 2023

You can find out more on the EFL Trust’s work here

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