We are proud to announce that Blackburn Rovers Community Trust has won the EFL’s North West Community Club of the Year Award for all their hard work over the past year.
It has been a challenging year, but the Community Trust has rolled out several projects aimed to support as many people as they can.
Rovers are one of six clubs to have won a regional award and this is the third time in six years we have picked up the prize, having previously won in 2015 and 2018.
The award recognises clubs who have responded to the needs of their community effectively during the pandemic and those that have demonstrated the importance of clubs in the community.
Over the past year, the Trust have worked to rise above the challenges the pandemic brought, delivering over 40 projects to help support our community and working with hard-to-reach communities.
Our testing centre at Ewood Park has provided over 6,000 rapid lateral flow tests, helping to identify asymptomatic cases and allowing people to get tested for COVID-19 for free.
We are extremely proud of our testing centre and the role it has played in keeping people safe and driving down the R rate in Blackburn.
The testing centre has discovered around 170 positive results from asymptomatic people who otherwise might not have known that they had the virus. Regular testing at our testing centre has allowed local businesses and schools to operate safely, and has helped to stop the virus from spreading further.
The pandemic has been difficult for a variety of reasons and so the Community Trust has been active in raising awareness for mental health.
The Trust's Rovers Let’s Talk project is a social media campaign to get people talking about their mental health in a positive environment so that they can be supported by the online Rovers community and staff.
Mental health is unfortunately still a taboo topic to speak openly about, and so we hoped to generate productive conversations through this project.
We are aware that not everyone with mental health concerns is active on social media, so we have also been using traditional contact methods to reach these people and have made over 2,000 calls to vulnerable and isolated people to offer them much-needed support.
With lockdown restrictions confining us to our homes, many people have turned to technology to access education and socialise with friends and family – but not everyone has been able to do this.
The Rovers Connect project has worked to reduce digital isolation, ensure that those in need have access to our programmes, and bridge the gap between digitally connected and disconnected children.
The Trust have provided laptops and internet connections to 45 families to help children access education and attend school virtually. Older people may be feeling especially lonely and vulnerable at this time and they are much less likely to use the internet, so we are offering free internet, training and devices to fans over 50 so that they can socialise safely during lockdown.
We know that giving people the means to socialise with friends and family online helps improve mental health - our Remember the Rovers project for over 50s and those struggling with dementia has been especially helpful with improving mental health and reducing loneliness.
Many families have also been badly affected by the pandemic, with many losing their jobs or surviving on furlough payments. With children being away from school for so long, some parents have struggled to entertain and feed them, adding to the stresses that the pandemic has already caused.
The Community Trust has backed the free school meals initiative, and as part of our Get Stuck In project, we delivered food parcels and daily activity packs, and hosted virtual daily activities on social media to feed and entertain kids during school holidays.
The Community Trust has delivered over 1000 meals to children over the school holidays in the past year, with plans to continue the successful Get Stuck In project to feed even more children in summer 2021.
The Community Trust CEO, Gary Robinson, described how proud the Trust are to have won the award.
“It’s always nice to receive external praise for this type of work and what we’ve been doing," he said.
"I just want to thank all of my staff and volunteers, people behind the scenes at the football club and partner organisations that have made the impossible possible this year.
"This has been an extremely difficult year, but our efforts have shown that football can be a force for good in the community.
"We are very proud of all of our projects and we will continue to support the community in any way we can after the pandemic is over.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel but there’s still much more to be done. When the pandemic is finally defeated, there’s going to have to be a recovery process and that’s what we’re going to be focusing on for the next at least 12 months to possibly two years."
The Community Trust will receive its award at the virtual EFL Community Awards ceremony later today with the overall national winner of the award being announced at the EFL Awards on Thursday 29th April at 7.30pm on Sky Sports Football.