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1 Jan 2020 | 17:17

The Sport for Development Coalition is well-placed to support the aims of the Government's Levelling Up White Paper. Here Mike Evans, CEO of the EFL Trust, explains how the national network of professional football club community organisations will contribute:

"The work of the EFL Trust and its Club Community Organisations across England and Wales closely aligns with the Levelling Up agenda by supporting communities to improve health and wellbeing, raise aspirations, realise potential and become stronger and more cohesive.

"Our organisations deliver long-term improvements to physical health and mental wellbeing, increasing the proportion of the population who meet physical health activity guidelines and reducing health inequalities through programmes such as FIT FANS, Joy of Moving, Extra Time Hubs and health testing and recovery programmes.

"Our tailored degree programmes, traineeships and programmes such as Training Ground, increase employability prospects in disadvantaged communities, improving educational attainment and reducing the employment gap between communities.

"National Citizen Service (NCS), delivered by over 65 partners within our network has the mission to inspire generations of citizens through shared experiences that develop character and bridge social divides. Our specific outcomes include increasing civic engagement and community cohesion amongst young people. Our partnership with the Youth Endowment Fund, #iwill Fund and Co-op on a £5.2million groundbreaking new youth-led network called the Peer Action Collective, involves giving young people a voice and the chance to make their communities safer, fairer places.

"The pandemic has exacerbated many of the challenges that we look to address, such as tackling loneliness and children’s mental health. We would like to see the power of sport continue to be acknowledged for its proven and evolving ability to support key groups of people within communities.

"In parallel, we would like to see increased dialogue around, and visibility of, our other established areas of work that we are investing resources in. This extends to work with prison leavers, those on probation, and both the perpetrators and victims of serious crime to develop skill sets and build an infrastructure of support.

"Also a consideration of the importance of tackling climate change is vital. The challenge of our generation is even more pronounced in areas of deprivation where recipients of the messaging have too many pressing economic and social concerns. Football has the power to support the messaging and bring people on that journey.

"The geographical reach of an organisation like the EFL Trust and the support of local football clubs whose identity is interwoven into the fabric of every town and city will be needed to deliver on the promise of levelling up our country."


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