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End of Season Review

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This season has been a year like no other. Nevertheless, Albion in the Community has continued to thrive over the past 12 months.

At the start of the 2020/21 season, a sense of normality seemed to be on the horizon and in accordance with government guidelines, Albion in the Community (AITC) was able to return to in-person delivery.

However, the greatly anticipated return to normality came to a grinding halt, as the country was plunged into multiple lockdowns throughout the remainder of the year.

Despite the obstacles, it has highlighted the outstanding work of our community coaches and support workers, who have continued to help people across Sussex  creatively from remote settings.

In what has been an unusual 12 months, we take a look back at the key moments, statistics and stories from a truly unique year.

 

The Landmark Moments

To kick off the season, Adam Lallana and Victoria Williams were unveiled as AITC’s player ambassadors for the respective Albion men’s and women’s sides. Both players made the commitment to support the work of the charity and to increase their involvement with the organisation.

Lallana described becoming an ambassador as a “real honour” and Williams highlighted the importance of this role due to the emergence of Covid-19.

Later on in the year, Lallana made a surprise Zoom visit to a Newhaven-based school, Breakwater Academy. The Brighton man fielded an array of questions from students, and this was documented by the BBC’s Match of the Day programme.

Once again this season, Albion favourite Bruno lent a helping hand to various areas of the charity. The Spaniard, who made over 200 appearances for the Seagulls, offered his support for AITC’s Speak Up Against Cancer initiative by encouraging men to be more open about discussing their health.

The likes of Tariq Lamptey and Cecilie Fiskerstrand from the Albion men’s and women’s teams also got involved with AITC’s online delivery during the peak of lockdown. Via Zoom, the Seagull duo spoke to our participants from our disability football programme and answered their burning questions.

From a remote setting, Albion’s WSL players Dani Bowman and Aileen Whelan spoke to the next generation of female footballers at the charity’s virtual girls football day. Additionally, Steven Alzate and Alireza Jahanbakhsh discussed their careers with participants from our Kicks and virtual football programmes.

As a result of our work within various areas of the community, AITC was shortlisted for the Best Community Scheme at the Football Business Awards and Sport Business Awards.

 

The 2020/21 Season By Numbers

Despite the difficulties we’ve faced in the past 12 months, we’ve remained determined to reach as many people across Sussex as possible and make a positive impact on their lives.

This year, AITC has worked with 6,000 students across more than 150 local schools. In these sessions, we’ve provided vital education surrounding numeracy and literacy through football-themed workshops.

On World Book Day, Albion stars Neal Maupay and Katie Startup spoke to more than 230 children via Zoom. Additionally, a further 200 youngsters listened to AITC’s online workshop for Show Racism the Red Card, which included guest appearances from ambassador Williams and Brighton under 23 player Antef Tsoungui.

AITC’s Premier League Kicks sessions have helped hundreds of young people in high-need areas via weekly football and mentoring meetings across Sussex. Furthermore, dozens of teenagers from this programme have gone onto take part in our Top Bins programme, to support young people to develop into role models in their local community.

The charity has also managed to support over 400 footballers with a disability. Despite the suspensions of our in-person sessions, our coaches have connected with our participants through social and wellbeing catch-ups via Zoom every week.

During lockdown, our further education team has also managed to help various young people gain important qualifications.

A recent Premier League fan engagement survey has also highlighted how Albion fans are aware and appreciate our work within the community. 96% of Seagulls fans agreed that AITC make a significant contribution to the local community, while 95% are aware of the initiatives that the charity produces.

 

The Interesting Stories

Despite spending the majority of this season indoors, this hasn’t hampered AITC’s ability to tell some amazing stories about some truly wonderful people.

At the dawn of the season, we heard Dylan’s story and how AITC’s wellbeing sessions have helped him deal with his mental health. Prior to lockdown, Dylan’s mother unfortunately past away but AITC were determined to offer the support he needed by arranging regular Zoom catch-ups.

AITC have continued to encourage women across Brighton & Hove to regularly check their breasts for signs of cancer. As part of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Caroline Shaw spoke to the charity in October and shared her personal experience with cancer. Following her ordeal, she has encouraged other women to regularly check themselves for signs of the life-threatening disease.

In terms of our Premier League Kicks programme, AITC spoke to Jaime who is just one of the hundreds of young people who attend these sessions. This video highlights how the programme has increased Jaime’s confidence and how Kicks has provided a platform for the participant to give back to the local community.

This year, AITC launched Kick Off the Weight – a weight management session for men living in Shoreham, Lancing, Sompting or Southwick. This programme has proven to be a huge success in lockdown, as an array of participants have taken the steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

These are just a handful of the incredible stories that we’ve heard in the past 12 months. If you like to find more stories like these, please visit the archive on our website.

 

A word from our Chief Executive

AITC’s chief executive, Matt Dorn has reflected on the past 12 months and has been impressed with the charity’s response to the pandemic.

“Like every other charity and business, the impact of Covid-19 on our organisation and the people we work with has been huge, but I have been so proud of the way our team has been resilient, agile and responsive to meet that challenge.

“As we see the light at the end of the tunnel and a roadmap out of the restrictions, we are shaping up ready to be able to further adapt and refine our activities so that we can use the power of football to change lives and offer practical and emotional help and assistance over this next period of recovery from the impact of pandemic on people’s lives.”

He was also incredibly appreciative of the thousands of supporters who have donated to AITC, which allows the charity to carry out its important work throughout Sussex.

“We couldn’t do the things we do without the support of the football club and our fans,” he said.

“Thank you to everyone who has helped make our work possible this season.”

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