Argyle are joining forces with 31 EFL clubs as part of a major new programme to tackle loneliness among older people.
The English Football League Trust are proud to be receiving £810,000 from the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) to support EFL Club Community Organisations in 32 deprived locations across England with the aim of connecting more older people at risk of loneliness.
A recent study from the Office 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 by having felt lonely in the past seven days.
The EFL Trust network has a history of working with people across all generations and have a track record of connecting the people who need it most.
Mike Evans, Chief Executive Officer of the EFL Trust comments: “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.”
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.
Iris, who attends Argyle’s Extra Time Hub, has found the hub to be a great support.
She said: “I found that since my husband passed away, I was finding myself increasingly lonely, and wanted to fill my time with new things and find some new friends. I love our weekly meet ups. I have made so many new friends and the staff go out of their way to make us welcome and encourage us to try new things. We are a great support for each other.”
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 made by community teams, players and managers, to check on people’s wellbeing. Clubs and CCOs have also made doorstep visits to check in on community members across the country.
Roger, 80, has been one of our season ticket holders who has benefited from the support that has been offered by Argyle. As we went into lockdown, he unexpectedly lost his wife and faced isolation on his own. The Argyle Community Trust have supported him with regular calls and doorstep visits.
Roger said: “Losing my wife was a terrible time and facing isolation alone was something I was dreading, however the support that I have received from Argyle Community Trust and the club has been fantastic and has helped me feel less lonely and got through the darker days.”
The new grants will fund expanded activities across the country under the campaign Let’s Tackle Loneliness Together'.
Work includes 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 business 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.
If you would like to receive support from the project or would like to volunteer to help us tackle loneliness, please contact: Emma Potter at firstname.lastname@example.org.