EFL Clubs will today come together to highlight the positive impact football has in changing people’s lives and the work taking place to tackle some of society’s biggest issues.
Across the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two, events will be held by the 72 clubs on the fifth EFL Day of Action to showcase the very best programmes and activity they deliver in a number of important areas, including diversity and inclusion, education, and health and wellbeing.
Despite the financial and logistical challenges that EFL Clubs have faced during the last 12 months, community work has remained at the heart of football, with Clubs and Club Community Organisations (CCOs) continuing to provide vital support to some of the most vulnerable people living in England and Wales.
The importance of football Clubs to their local communities has never been clearer than in the last year, with millions of people across the nation relying on their local Club for food donations, mental health and wellbeing support and even transport to and from Covid-19 testing and vaccination sites.
Since March 2020, EFL Clubs have collectively distributed over 1.4 million food parcels, more than 179,000 items of PPE, 22,000 prescriptions and donated over 2,100 laptops and tablets to people facing technology poverty. Club staff and their players have had in excess of 527,000 outgoing and incoming conversations with fans and vulnerable people, and over 600 job opportunities are being delivered for young unemployed people.
There is a real need for Clubs to bounce back from the financial implications of the pandemic in order to sustain the delivery of these life-changing community programmes.
The EFL Day of Action aims to unite Clubs and CCOs on one day to celebrate and highlight the impact they have in their communities, bringing together the most unique projects and programmes being run across England and Wales, with more than half a million hours of group activity delivered and over 40 million hours of participation each season.
Martin Vose, OACT Head of Community, commented: "We are proud to be apart of the EFL Day of Action today, highlighting the work being done as a collective across the country as we use the power of football to engage and unite.
"Here at Oldham Athletic Community Trust we continue to lead the way in using football to engage, alongside our traditional delivery we also have several different community projects and initiatives all currently taking place as we continue to support those in the most need as an ongoing result of Covid-19.
"I would like to take this opportunity to share our recent impact report which highlights some of this work whilst also paying tribute to key partners and stakeholders who play a vital role in enabling us to serve our local communities."
To see how we are celebrating the EFL Day of Action, make sure you follow @OfficialOACT on Twitter. Below you can read the latest updates on Oldham Athletic Community Trust's (OACT) programmes and initiatives.
Training Ground (Employability)
Next month will see the local launch of the Training Ground initiative, which offers a small group of young people aged between 18–24 the chance to undertake substantial work experience in a range of employment contexts, to develop employability skills, and to develop their functional skills such as Maths and English.
Drawing on the power of football and the power of the club badge, EFL Trust and the network of EFL Club Community Organisations (CCOs) reach out to a broad spectrum of the community, including disadvantaged and disengaged individuals, and those with physical and mental challenges, supporting them to achieve positive outcomes.
In an effort to combat loneliness and isolation, OACT launched ‘Never Alone’.
As we emerge from a period of national lockdown we want to send the message to elderly members of the community that they are not alone and help them to get through these difficult times with a show of support. Over long periods, loneliness can increase the risk of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
As a result OACT initially distributed 100 activity packs which will be prioritised for elderly members of the community.
The packs contained:
- Puzzle books and pens.
- A letter of support from Oldham Athletic.
- Letters of encouragement from pupils who attend some of our partner secondary schools.
Throughout the ‘Never Alone’ initiative, we hope to provide some older members of the community with some companionship and activities to pass the time and also provide pupils with a sense of community spirit.
The pupil's letters will let the elderly residents know that they are not alone, tell them how the pupils themselves have coped with lockdown and ask the residents about their lives both before and during the pandemic.
We hope to convey the message that no one should have to face these difficult times alone, and that we are all thinking of those members of the community who may be feeling lonely until we are able to return to a sense of normality.
For more information, click here.
National Citizen Service (NCS)
Designed for 16-17 year-olds, NCS is a youth programme that runs every summer and autumn, during school holidays.
The experience is all about emboldening young people, by giving them the buzz of being an adult (without all the responsibilities). On NCS, participants live away from home and get a taste of independence. They mix with a new crowd of people and take on exciting challenges together. The experience helps young people to develop new skills that will set them up for life after school.
Participants then get a chance to use these new-found skills, by tackling a 'passion project' of their choosing. NCS is dedicated to providing a platform for young people where they can speak up, get their voice heard and tackle real-world issues close to home.
The experience might just last a few weeks, but the impact? That lasts a lot longer. Since day one, in 2011, nearly 500,000 young people have taken part in NCS, completing over 14.5 million hours of community action, and gaining priceless life experiences.
Food For Thought
Earlier this year, OACT also launched the third 'Food For Thought' initiative, as a direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The initiative provides local schools with the opportunity to access up to £200 in shopping vouchers to support families and pupils in need within their local community.
Since January 2021 nearly £3,000 has been distributed to local schools, with support received from the players, staff and directors at Oldham Athletic Football Club.
So far 16 schools have applied, and then received vouchers, to aid their school community through the Covid-19 pandemic.
The OACT team work daily across the Oldham borough in a number of primary schools, delivering a bespoke and tailored service to each individual school needs.
Ensuring that all staff delivering within schools are qualified in a range of national government bodied sports to improve the delivery of the Nation curriculum of PE. In addition, members of the team are qualified to an AFPE Level 3 standard.
They pride themselves on being very adaptable and as an organisation offer much more than just PE, providing school support with individual or group targeted interventions to help improve progress in different topics throughout the curriculum including Maths, English and PSHE.