Yesterday's release of the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust Impact Report has helped to highlight some magnificent examples of the organisation as a force for good - with one quote in particular on page 27 standing out.
John Stellenboom, who plays for Men Dive In FC in the Social Inclusion Football League, is quoted as saying: "Before I started playing here, I used to self-harm a lot. Basically, it saved my life."
In his comments, he refers to the twice monthly competition held at the Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre, with his story being just one example from many we could have quoted when judging the impact of just one competition under the Community Trust's jurisdiction.
Throughout the week, we will serialise case studies from the publication in order to make the wider community aware of the power of our charitable activities...
The Social Inclusion Football League
Winning just short of £50,000 from The People’s Projects – part of The Big Lottery Fund – was an undoubted highlight of 2016, securing the future of the Social Inclusion Football League and allowing it to grow considerably.
Based at the Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre, it’s now a twice monthly competition with weekly training sessions that brings those on the margins of society into a mainstream environment. The team aspect brings together players with a variety of issues such as mental health concerns, homelessness or refugee status, creating an environment that can help to resolve problems that they face in their situation.
Hundreds of players come through our doors every month to compete in an event that adds structure and purpose to their lives, and an opportunity to make friendships with people in a similar situation to help them through dif cult times.
The intense #VoteSIFL social media campaign went viral in February and March, impressing the team at ITV Granada who oversaw the promotion of the voting process, gaining prime time coverage for the competition and the Community Trust in the process. Winning the voting process allowed the league to double the number of teams involved and fund up-skilling opportunities for participants to gain qualifications in coaching or of ciating.
Paul Hardman from Creative Support, the partners that actively drive the league, explains: “The Social Inclusion Football League provides a supportive and competitive environment for adults who are unable to access mainstream football. It helps people on the road to recovery who have experienced a wide range of difficulties and enables them to be a part of a team, build confidence and enjoy new friendships.”
We are proud to have seen the Social Inclusion Football League raise self esteem, encourage a more inclusive society, tackle drug and alcohol abuse, aid recovery from mental health issues and give people a fresh chance in life – especially for those who bravely tell us they were close to ending it.