All 72 EFL clubs have been recognised for their collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic by being named as the recipients of the You Gov Community Project of the Year Award at the 2021 EFL Community Awards.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, shutting down all aspects of society, including bringing football to a halt en masse for the first time since the Second World War, clubs came together as a force for good, and were among the first to respond to the needs of local communities across England and Wales.
Clubs and their club community organisations (CCOs) adapted their outreach programmes in line with Government guidance and restrictions, to ensure the safe continuation of their incredible work. It’s work which has provided a lifeline for so many, helping to keep people healthy, active and connected since the outbreak of coronavirus.
From Cardiff to Carlisle and Bristol to Blackpool, clubs and CCOs continued to provide vital support to some of the country’s most vulnerable people.
Chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: "Both the club and the Community Sports Trust rose to the unique challenge presented by the pandemic in the way we worked together to maintain and in many cases strengthen the bonds with our local community.
"The CST staff volunteered to continue to work through this crisis helping to reach out to vulnerable people who live in our local area from all walks of life. They provided real services in terms of delivering and collecting food for those most in need, as well as utilising online platforms to keep in touch with the members who comprise their groups and projects.
"As a club we were commended for our social media presence which helped the council and our Cumbria-based partnerships to disseminate vitally important messages and updates, and the manager, his staff and players reached out regularly with personal messages to deserving fans, as well as with regular news and updates.
"The players were instrumental in initiating a project which raised over £2,500 worth of goods and supplies for a local homeless project, and for young families who had been hit hard by the pandemic, and online fundraisers provided smiles, fun and interaction at times when they were most needed.
"As a club we are extremely proud of the way we all, fans included, stepped up to the plate through such a unique and tough set of circumstances and collectively we can feel very proud that we are part of this award."
This award is testament to the fantastic work the network has done in responding to the needs of their communities during the global pandemic. Over the past year EFL clubs and community schemes have:
+ Delivered over 1.4million food parcels
+ Made and received over 500,000 phone calls to elderly and vulnerable people, as well as their season ticket holders
+ Donated over 2,000 laptops to local schools
+ Distributed almost 200,000 items of PPE
+ Footballers signed up to volunteer for the NHS
+ Weekly garden gate visits to the most vulnerable and lonely
This award showcases the collective and individual responses made to the challenges of the pandemic and demonstrates the fantastic work the network has done in responding to the needs of their communities during what has been an incredibly difficult period for everyone.