Community Heroes Celebrated for EFL Community Weekend

EFL Community Weekend

Saturday's fixture with Blackburn Rovers coincides with the EFL’s Community Weekend – a campaign that aims to show the breadth and depth of club community work across the English Football League.

Back in October, we held this season’s dedicated Foundation Day and invited supporters to ‘Be Part of our Family’, showcasing the variety of programmes The Albion Foundation deliver as the charity arm of the football club.

Foundation Day 23/24 vs Plymouth Argyle
Foundation Day 23/24 vs Plymouth Argyle

To mark the Community Weekend, we’ve highlighted three community heroes from across the Albion Foundation, with these individuals’ excellent representatives of the Foundation in the community.

A community hero has been selected from each of our focus areas at the Foundation: Wellbeing, Behaviour Change and Active Lifestyles – with our nominated trio invited to attend Saturday’s game at The Hawthorns.

Wellbeing: Linda

Since 2021, The Albion Foundation, Age UK Sandwell and the Stroke Association have worked together on the Sandwell Community Wellbeing Programme.

The project was put in place to provide specialist exercise for people affected by strokes - improving their mobility and confidence, connecting them to peers within their community and introducing them to long-term sources of support within their area.

Linda at stroke support group
Linda and Foundation staff at our Stroke Support Group

Initially set up on a 12-week pilot, the scheme has been running for two years now and has had great benefit on stroke survivors and their recovery, in the Sandwell area.

One success story is that of Linda who started the programme in August 2022. Linda initially had a negative mindset and was low on confidence in the aftermath of her stroke, with no movement in her left arm. Since joining the group, she's been able to build back her strength and mobility and she's now full of confidence and energy.

To reward Linda for her fantastic progress with her recovery, we’ve nominated her as a community hero this weekend, with her story an inspiration for stroke survivors in a similar situation.

Behaviour Change: Emmanuel

Emmanuel joined the Albion Foundation mentoring programme last year and attended over 15 mentoring sessions with Foundation staff, occasionally attending sessions while being excluded from school or being within a behaviour unit.

During his mentoring sessions, Emmanuel would discuss his week, setting goals and targets to overcome the negative factors he would highlight, before playing a short board game with staff.

Emmanuel at a mentoring session
Emmanuel at a mentoring session

Emmanuel’s behavioural issues were often based on controlling anger, something that staff focused on during his mentoring sessions and have helped him learn to deal with, with Emmanuel now possessing a fantastic relationship with his mentor Peaches.

We’ve selected Emmanuel as a community hero, due to the vast improvement seen in his behaviour through Foundation mentoring sessions and the brilliant enthusiasm he has shown in the process.

Active Lifestyles: Adriel 

Adriel moved from Honduras to the UK in 2019, as a teenager with his family and initially found it very hard to adapt to his new home in the Midlands. When the Foundation started working with Adriel, he was very shy, struggled with his confidence and didn’t know many people within the area.

Joining our weekly PL Kicks programme has benefitted Adriel greatly, making him feel part of the community and helping him settle into life in a new country. The sessions have improved his confidence and social skills, while continually supporting his physical health and footballing ability.

Adriel at PL Kicks
Adriel at a PL Kicks session

Foundation staff started to notice that Adriel was keen to work with the coaching staff and was starting to build connections with the youth engagement coaches at the PL Kicks sessions. His enthusiasm to support the sessions has led to Adriel being a regular volunteer and PL Kicks and helped form our Legacy Leader group – a programme for 14-16-year-olds to volunteer within the community and get started on our career pathway.

We’ve highlighted Adriel as a community hero to thank him for his support as a volunteer, to showcase the benefits of PL Kicks sessions, and to recognise the employment pathway that is available for participants.