Bolton Wanderers Community Trust are joining 31 EFL Club Community Organisations (CCO) as part of a major new programme to tackle loneliness among older people.
The English Football League Trust will be receiving £810,000 from the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) to support EFL CCOs in 32 deprived locations across England with the aim of connecting more elderly people who are at risk of loneliness.
A recent study from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed that 2.6 million adults reported that they felt lonely “often” or “always” whilst 7.4 million adults reported their well-being had been affected through their having felt lonely in the past seven days.
The EFL Trust network has a history of working with people from across all generations and has a track record of connecting the people who need it most.
Mike Evans, Chief Executive Officer of the EFL Trust commented: “We are proud to have been chosen to be part of this vital mission to support the older people in our communities.
''We see this as an endorsement of the great work that our CCOs have done in this area and we know there is so much more that our network will achieve.
''Our Health and Wellbeing team are working hard to match the expertise of our network to the communities where it is most desperately needed and we continue to work with DCMS, NHS, Public Health England and other agencies to ensure we can all build back better after COVID-19.”
Richard Slater, Strategy Lead – Health at Bolton Wanderers Community Trust said: “We are delighted to be one of the CCOs selected by the EFL Trust to be part of and deliver the Tackling Loneliness Together programme.
''We have looked to support older adults during the lockdown period, and this additional funding will enable us to continue and expand this offer and provide support to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
Bolton Wanderers’ Head Coach Ian Evatt: “I’m delighted to support this new programme from Bolton Wanderers Community Trust.
''Now, more than ever, it is important that we all look out for one another and provide assistance when needed.
''When I speak to people around the club, the significance of supporting the local community is always emphasised and I hope that this programme will go some way to help the Bolton residents who may be at risk of experiencing loneliness.”
Last year the Trust launched the Extra Time Hubs movement to engage retired and semi-retired people to combat loneliness and inactivity. Funded by Sport England, through the National Lottery, the first pathfinder hubs are run at 11 EFL clubs.
Brian, who attends Bolton Wanderers Extra Time Hub, said: “I got involved with the Community hub after my son spotted a tour of the stadium which I really enjoyed. Sadly my wife passed away five years ago and I have recently downsized and live a stone’s throw from the stadium.
''The hub has been a joy to attend as I have met some very nice people and I look forward to our weekly meetings. I have enjoyed assisting in the quizzes and even calling bingo numbers, it has been a pleasure to partake and as a Season Ticket holder with BWFC I appreciate the work the Community Trust does for us supporters 'of a certain age'.”
''Recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts to ensure that older and more vulnerable fans and members of the community are not isolated have stepped up with groups meeting online, WhatsApp groups being set up and regular phone calls being made by Community teams, players and managers, to check on people’s wellbeing. CCOs have also made doorstep visits to check in on community members across the country.''
Stella, who also attends Bolton’s hub, said: “I can honestly say that when we did the ﬁrst Extra Time Hubs Zoom I think it was the ﬁrst time that I had laughed so much since the lockdown started. I have contact with family but they have busy lives. It’s so nice seeing everyone after so long. Thank you for keeping in touch!”
The new grants will allow expanded activities across the country under the campaign ‘Let’s Tackle Loneliness Together’, include befriending phone calls, online social groups, a pen-pal scheme, social action from young people taking part in NCS and socially distanced ‘garden gate’ conversations to emerge across EFL communities and reach the people who need this vital support right when they need it the most.
The EFL Trust will also be one of a number of charities and businesses across the UK who will join the government’s Tackling Loneliness Network, leading the charge against Loneliness. The group will explore ways to bring people together to build strong community spirit, with a focus on groups at particular risk of loneliness, and will work to continue these initiatives in the future.
One Club, One Community, One Town