This past week has been National Volunteers Week, so I wanted to use this space to talk about the massive importance volunteers have played on our charity and how they help us to help more people in our Community.
Our voluntary team almost has a two-pronged attack to it, the first is a host of young people, that utilise our V100 programme to gain experience and receive coaching qualifications in return to help build their CV and potential for employment in the sport, leisure and teaching environments and we have lots of examples of people that have utilised this to the best effect.
One example is a young man called Jack King, who has been in full-time education with the Community Trust for more than five years (through his BTEC and Degree qualifications). Throughout this time Jack has also volunteered with the Trust on our schools and sports camps programmes and now works for the Community Trust as part of our PL Primary Stars team, supporting increasing the quality of PE delivered to our young people in Primary Schools in Blackpool.
The other side to our volunteer team is people from our local area, that want to help. These people support our delivery team, by attending sessions and making sure our participants get the best experience we can give them.
One example of this is a young man called Bradley Baylis. Brad is a fanatical Blackpool FC fan, has been through the Community Trust education system and now supports our Community team to deliver a host of provisions, including Walking Football, Sporting Memories and PL Kicks. Brad has always given his time to help others and is a great example for young people to follow. Brad was also involved in raising more than £2,200 for the Trust and other local charities through a number of fundraising events this past year, which include supporting a programme fair at Bloomfield Road and running coast to coast from Scarborough to Blackpool.
Another really inspiring individual is local veteran Marianna Mitchell, who originally started attending our veterans' coffee mornings as a participant. Maz’s personality is the type that she almost instantly wanted to do more and became a leading member of the groups and took on additional time and responsibility to help other vets to not feel as alone or isolated. Marianna also helped last year, with her son, with part of the clean-up of Bloomfield Road, once the receivers entered the Football Club. She spent three days polishing all the trophies our great club had accumulated.
These are three examples of wonderful people in our town, that the Community Trust is greatly proud to be associated with and significantly appreciates the time and support they give to help others.
I also wanted to make you aware of the fantastic support over the years we have received from the Blackpool FC first-team players, who regularly give up their time to support our participants by attending sessions, getting involved in physical activities, sharing their experiences with our BFC Sport College Students and taking time to give positive and impactful messages. In 2019 our first-team players made 312 appearances in Community activities.
My final point on volunteers is the group we helped to form as part of our Walking Football programme. Whilst the groups have always attended and supported our recreational community sessions taking place throughout every week, a large number of the individuals formed the Senior Seasiders Blackpool Walking Football team. Unfortunately the team was formed whilst the protests were taking place, meaning they did not feel comfortable competing full-time under the umbrella of Blackpool FC and actually were supported by AFC Blackpool, we respected this point and continued to support and maintain contact, and the group have co-ordinated a fantastic group/team that have travelled and conquered local, national and continental competitions over the past few years, all whilst enjoying themselves and building some amazing bonds and friendships.
Over the past few months we have discussed the group becoming Blackpool FC Senior Seasiders and finally representing the town in the great tangerine shirt. Just prior to lockdown, all agreed to this approach and we have now brought them back to their original home. It’s great to have this group now representing the club, whilst also making sure we collectively support AFC Blackpool.
Again, all this would not have been possible without all the volunteers that support the teams and the committee (which I now sit on) to shape and co-ordinate the bunch.
I hope this week’s article has showcased some examples of how well supported we are and I'd like to finish by saying thank-you to all the volunteers that help our charity.
Chief Executive Officer
Blackpool FC Community Trust