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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

QPR Shortlisted for Community Club of The Year...Club Plans Fan Outreach and Dialogue


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Posted on: 10.03.2010

The 2010 Football League Awards take place on Sunday 14th March and all this week in the build-up to the prestigious ceremony we will be focusing on those in contention to receive awars on the night. Here we review the the clubs in contention to be recognised for outstanding community work and be named 'The Football Foundation Community Club of the Year'.


The Judging Panel were looking for the community scheme that has best demonstrated success at engaging their local community during 2009. More specifically, the Judges examined the range of activities undertaken by the club, their impact on the community, the key achievements of the year, the key partnerships created and funding secured in 2009 and the sustainability of the projects.


What has been extraordinary about the community efforts of Brighton & Hove Albion is how they have managed to sustain and even further expand the broad range of activities that were so impressive last year. Albion in the community have worked across 6 different focus areas with 41,715 hours of activities delivered to the local community which have directly benefitted 60,843 individuals. The coordination of all the different community projects seems even more outstanding as the team of staff has managed to conduct another hugely successful year despite operating from multiple, split sites ahead of the move to a new stadium. It is visible that Brighton & Hove Albion are concerned about the well being of the local community as they realise how football can be used so effectively to bring together and motivate individuals and groups, whilst developing their health, self esteem and career prospects. In particular, the motive of tackling anti - social behaviour has produced some staggering results with Sussex Police reporting that Albion in the Community's work had contributed to a 40% drop in Youth Disorder and Anti-Social behaviour in the economically deprived area of the town.

It is evident that Colchester United Community Sports Trust (CUCST) have been working hard to improve the community around the new Weston Homes Community Stadium. Working across five areas of sports participation, community inclusion, health, education and creative development, their aim is to help ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things, working with others to identify and address the needs of the community. They have as a result established an admirable range of creative partnerships with organisations in their local community such as NHS North East Essex, The Prince's Trust and Essex County Council. What has stood out for CUCST this year is their education programme which has flourished at the Community Stadium with its very own 'EdUC@Utd Study Support Centre'. As an Apple Regional Training Centre, the educational support centre gives local individuals opportunities to fulfil their potential from utilising Apple technology and multimedia equipment to make learning enjoyable. The judges also felt that the recently formed project 'UcRe@Utd' was an innovative way of incentivising education for local school children with an award style ceremony for the most creative cross curricular project. It is great to see how well CUCST are using their new stadium to enhance the wide ranging yet focused activities to help those in their community prosper.

The diverse nature of the activities run by Oldham Athletic Community Trust in 2009 drew real praise from the judges. They operate 20 different programmes and projects across their five key areas of sports participation, education, health, environment and social inclusion that have given them the ability to encompass over 10,000 different participants aged from 5 to 95. The judging panel were drawn in particular to the Nintendo Wii project for the elderly members of the community. Oldham really have developed notable inter generation activity by involving younger volunteers to encourage the participants to keep mind and body physically active using games consoles. The Community Trust's social inclusion activities though have been their outstanding achievement of 2009 - projects such as 'Kickz', '3 v Free' and 'Street Games' are fantastic examples of how a football club can help their local community combat anti-social behaviour of children during hours where youngsters are most likely to offend.

QPR in the Community operate 25 different schemes and programmes, running 400 sessions per month to over 15,000 participants, in doing so making a real difference to the education and health of their surrounding community. Their very impressive range of activities was not all that caught the judges eye however, as within this their projects showed real innovation. The judges particularly focused on their social inclusion project 'Moving the Goalposts', developed specifically to engage the Gypsy Roma and Traveller (GRT) young people in the local community who are often hard to reach individuals. The judges were impressed by the new scheme as the engagement is innovative and the impact on the self image and identity of those involved in the scheme is something for QPR to be rightly very proud of. It is a difficult task to engage young Travellers in high quality football activities and as a result, other mainstream services, before they become too 'hard to reach'; with this in mind the advances that QPR in the Community Trust have made deserve merit and praise. The judges were so impressed with the 'Moving the Goalposts' scheme and they thought that it is surely one for other clubs to follow.

Southampton as a club endured a turbulent 2009, until their summer takeover by Executive Chairman Nicola Cortese and owner Markus Liebherr, but for Saints In The Community it was a year to be extremely proud of and thoroughly deserving of national recognition. Despite challenging times they fought to maintain their high quality service to the local community, with a number of new and imaginative initiatives resulting in over 20,000 individual participants taking part in the broad types of activities they run - from After School clubs to a Football Arts Academy to diversity and anti-racism project 'Onside'. There is clear evidence that the health and education programmes in particular have provided outstanding results for the local area. In particular the judging panel were highly complementary of 'Health Kicks', a health programme that acts as the bridge between the Health services and adult men using football as the engagement tool, and also especially the partnerships with Southampton Primary Care Trust and Sure Start Children Centres.

Southend United have produced a stunning range of activities for their community over the past year with over 30 different schemes and projects. During 2009 over 40,000 individuals took part in the various initiatives delivered by the Trust, covering all ages. The Trust's fantastic range of activities is capped by their flagship 'Goals' project which has produced great results which has led to a nomination for 'Best Project by a Professional Sports Team' category at the 2009 Beyond Sport Awards. As well as being concerned about the health and education of the participants of the schemes, the Trust have also offered additional training and development support for their employees. Examples of such training include makaton sign language, time and project management, IT skills and general sports and fitness qualifications. The Southend United Community & Educational Trust clearly understands and demonstrates how to operate effectively and offer sustainable, long term benefits to their local community whilst producing outstanding results.

Watford has had a very successful year supporting their community and the judges were full of praise that a club with a fantastic track record of community work is continuing to deliver. Their strategic framework has enabled Watford to deliver an excellent spread of activities as well as an impressive depth of funding. They offered around 8,500 different sessions through the year, attracting in excess of 150,000 participants. Programmes they run include anything from Breakfast Clubs right the way up to a state for the art Learning Centre. One project worthy of special mention though is Watford 'MyPlace' project because for the Trust this is a groundbreaking project as they have not been involved in a capital project like this before. 'MyPlace' is a £4.2 million project that involves knocking down and re-building a youth centre into a world class youth and community facility. It is projects such as this that see Watford's Community Scheme continue to evolve and develop, setting the standard as one of the leading community focused clubs in the country. Football League

Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times - QPR chief keen to renew dialogue with fans-
QPR'S new board intend to reopen fans' forums as part of a campaign to draw disillusioned supporters back to Loftus Road.

Meetings with fans' representatives had been held on a regular basis until Flavio Briatore took over the club in 2007 and they may return following Briatore's recent resignation as chairman of QPR Holdings Ltd.

Asked whether fans' forums were on the agenda for the new regime, chairman Ishan Saksena told the Times: "Absolutely. We want to communicate more with the fans and start a dialogue with them.

"That is a strategy we're in the process of forming and the commitment is there to do that. We need to have the support of our fans and keep building that up.

"We have stability back in the club and we want to do things in a financially prudent way. I think the most important decision we took was to get Neil Warnock as manager.

"That's our first real solid attempt to show the fans that we remain true to our vision of being successful in the future. I'm confident the fans will get the message and I'm relying on them to be part of the QPR family."

Saksena confirmed that he will work 'closely' with Warnock but, unlike his predecessor, does not plan to be involved in football affairs.

"There's the football side, which Neil will handle, and I'll handle the business and financial aspect," he added.

"We'll work in close consultation with the board prior to making decisions. Decisions were made in the past and some of them could have been altered in retrospect, but the intention was always to do the best thing.

"The dream is still there of making it to the Premier League. I know Neil will be able to help us get there, but right now we're concentrating on the short-term, trying to solidify our position in the Championship. Kilburn Times

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