Six EFL Clubs, including Rochdale Football Club through the work of the Dale Community Trust, are to take part in a ‘Communities United’ project aimed at increasing community cohesion and building a more diverse and inclusive society.
With an aim to tackle discrimination and champion social cohesion in the North West of England, funding from the Faith, Race and Hate Crime Grants Scheme will enable the project to be delivered by six EFL Trust Club Community Organisations: Oldham Athletic, Rochdale, Salford City, Preston North End, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers.
The project will compliment existing work that the EFL and its Clubs deliver 365 days a year - successfully engaging with groups that many other programmes fail to reach.
‘Communities United’ will be one of nine projects supported by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with the grant helping the project to bring families from different backgrounds together, increase understanding and awareness of social and cultural differences, challenge stereotypes and unite people through common interests and social action.
The Faith, Race and Hate Crime Grants scheme invited established community groups and civil society organisations across England to apply for funding for projects that champion the government’s commitment to building a diverse and tolerant society for all faiths and races.
The grants will address existing community issues, as well as pressures increased by the pandemic, such as isolation. Throughout the outbreak of COVID-19, EFL Clubs have continued to operate in the heart of communities with thousands of food parcels, prescriptions and PPE delivered, facilities being used for NHS staff, alongside phone calls and online sessions provided to those most in need during lockdown and in the subsequent months.
Thanks to the funding, the Dale in the Community Trust will aim to engage with thirteen families/households from different cultural backgrounds in Rochdale, work with an organisation(s) which represents a local cultural group to help with awareness raising and understanding, as well as delivering three distinct actives including social and heritage, a cultural activity and a social action project.
Keith Hicks, Dale in the Community Trust Manager, is delighted that the Club is one of the six to receive the grant.
“This is a brilliant project for the Club to be involved in, working with the many diverse community groups across the Borough. It will go some way to seeing how we can bring these communities together for the benefit for both the local community and Rochdale AFC. If anyone wishes to get involved, I can be contacted on 07958593121.”
Faith Minister Lord Greenhalgh said: “In this country we believe in freedom within the rule of law. We are all free to love and not to hate. This government will not tolerate hate towards anyone because of who they are.
“We stand full square in support of all communities that suffer from prejudice and discrimination and we must build a shared future in this country.
"The pandemic has hit faith communities hard with the closure of communal worship during the two lockdowns. This funding is part of our comprehensive support for them. Our faith communities instinctively love their neighbours.”
Head of Community and Participation at the EFL Trust, Loo Brackpool added: “It is of great importance for the EFL Trust and our Club Community Organisations to be part of this vital project and use the power of the club badge to unite people by demonstrating common interests, increasing understanding and bridging differences.
“We will be working with family groups to help facilitate understanding across generations, as well between those from different backgrounds, cultures and faith groups.
“EFL clubs and CCOs have endured as a positive force in their communities through the years and their collective efforts in response to the pandemic have underlined their vital importance in our towns and cities. Despite the uncertainty of COVID restrictions, we will find ways to deliver this project and use the learning to inform other areas of our existing community activities nationwide.”