FOOTBALL AS A FORCE FOR GOOD / PRESENTED BY GEOFF WILSON CONSULTANCY
Making An Impact: Shrewsbury Town In The Community
Football clubs have been an active part of their local community for many years but the work of their Community Trusts is often not that well known. When Covid hit the UK, Shrewsbury Town in the Community (STITC) stepped forward to offer help to those in need. Their CEO, Jamie Edwards tells fcbusiness how they adapted to the new environment and how the pandemic has changed the way people now see the work they do.
Covid changes everything
When Covid came it was a time for clubs and Community Trusts to be as bold and brave as they could be. Over the course of the year football has stood forward to help, from stadiums being used as test and vaccination centres to the huge sums of money raised by players and clubs to help during the pandemic. In March 2020 when we first went into lockdown there was a lot of uncertainty that surrounded it so we made sure as a community organisation, and as a football club, that we looked after our most vulnerable participants to start with. We looked at how we could adapt our services to keep them going. That was the challenge I set our staff – can we keep 100% of our activities going?
Understanding on a local level
There are not many networks other than Local Authorities across the country where you can have such a geographical reach as you can through the 92 League clubs. They are literally at the heart of the community. Local Authorities have been fantastic during this time with their support for foodbanks and local businesses but football clubs are an additional network that helps on a much more micro level and can engage with participants that some organisations really can’t which is a real advantage. There’s a resilience built into club community trusts and we’ve all done something slightly different but we’ve all shown how robust, resilient and important we are to both our parent football clubs and the local community.
Football’s best kept secret
I think we’re the best kept secret in every club across the country. The work that we have done over these lockdown periods, along with the results we are getting, are starting to open doors for us. I’ve been lucky enough to be in communication with Public Health Shropshire which has never happened before and that’s the good thing to come out of this. There’s now a realisation of the work we do outside of football. People often relate us with football coaching only but that’s a small percentage of the work we do. We’re engaging with people that are dealing with mental health issues or loneliness. Our good work is now a vital service.
How STITC has helped Shropshire…
7,201 sessions delivered in 2019/2020
11,695 hours of delivery over 36 programmes in 2019/2020
102,722 session attendees in 2019/2020
£1,266,127 invested into Shropshire in 2019/2020 totalling £5,208,211 since 2008
STITC working in the community over the last 12 months
Health & Wellbeing
In March 2020, two brand-new Extra-Time Hubs, were opened. During the Covid-19 pandemic at a time when social isolation became a global spotlight, these hubs provided a vital way for STITC to keep its elderly community connected and supported while the nation was in lockdown. The team made phone-calls to check on their wellbeing and offered virtual support for Head’s Up participants. STITC also launched a digital Kick Cancer programme, connecting people to other local residents creating a web of support around those most at need; with willing participants assisting in making over 700 welfare calls
399 SESSIONS DELIVERED
205 UNIQUE PARTICIPANTS
As lockdown continued during April 2020, STITC had to ensure they could continue their work in whatever way they could. In setting out to support the wider community a brand new initiative was launched; Shrews@Home. Each day they sent out daily challenges and resource packs to over 250 parents who had signed up to its free mailing list. Shrewsbury Town First Team players also got involved and made videos for Shrews@Home participants. Daily live lesson were launched which covered different areas each day to help keep kids across Shropshire busy which featured special guests such as Daniel Udoh taking part in a reflexes and agility lesson, to former England international Joe Hart helping to deliver a session to Severndale special academy.
Football Development Goes Virtual
Delivery for STITC’s Football Development Programme ground to a halt with the introduction of the second national lockdown in November 2020. Staff adapted quickly and efficiently to setup a substantial online timetable which focused on various on and off field topics. This saw the successful delivery of workshops in nutrition, tactical analysis and resilience alongside weekly engagement squad sessions in both the technical and social corner. ‘Fitness Saturday’ sessions that were a favourite from Lockdown 1 were also brought back, which saw players focus on aspects of injury prevention, agility and coordination from the comfort of their own homes.
397 PARTICIPANTS IMPROVED THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF NUTRITION
80 ONLINE SESSIONS DELIVERED
100% UNIQUE PARTICIPANTS AGED 6-16 YRSPARTICIPANTS IMPROVED
Looking towards the future, STITC have exciting plans to develop its projects across Shropshire and further grow as an organisation.
3G Pitch: Early in 2021 STITC hope to have completed the build of a new 3G football pitch by the Reech Community Hub. The new surface will allow all-weather use of the pitch both for existing projects and grassroots partner clubs.
Shrewsbury Town School: The Shrewsbury Town School will be a brand new facility located in Harlescott on the current site of The Grange Sport Centre. In the next twelve months STITC will be working closely with the Marches Academy Trust, using the site to support pupils in secondary education providing alternative curriculum provision and career development opportunities.
Employability Programmes: Following the effects of Covid-19 on local employment rates, particularly in the 16–24 years age range, STITC will be launching a range of employability courses. The short courses will help those furthest from employment become more confident and qualified in order to gain full time employment.
To find out more about or to support the work of Shrewsbury town in the Community, visit: www.shrewsburytowninthecommunity.com