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EFL wins Leaders Sports Award for tackling loneliness during Covid-19 pandemic

7 October 2021

The English Football League (EFL) has won the Community Award at the 2021 Leaders Sports Awards for its ‘Tackling Loneliness Together’ project.

The awards took place at Twickenham Stadium this evening (Thursday 7th October) during Leaders Week London. The Community Award, in partnership with Facebook, seeks out and celebrates an organisation that is using sport to bring a community together. 

‘Tackling Loneliness Together’ was launched through the EFL’s charitable arm, the EFL Trust, and enabled EFL clubs to play an important and unique role in supporting their local communities when issues associated with loneliness were put into sharp focus at the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

From zoom cookery lessons for widowed men in Derby to Christmas Day phone calls in Wigan and Christmas dinner deliveries in Stoke, the project offered support to over 33,000 people – more than 75% of which were over 65 years old – and over 120,000 phone calls were made to those at risk of becoming isolated.

With financial support from DCMS to initially drive the activities and additional funding and support from local partners, EFL Clubs created a range of locally delivered support services including face-to-face visits, welfare and befriending telephone calls, provision of information by post and virtual sessions via web platforms.

Data collected from a survey of Tackling Loneliness Together participants revealed that people felt less anxious, less lonely and happier about life as a result of the programme: 

  • Average life satisfaction score increased from 6.47 to 6.84
  • Feelings of being worthwhile increased from 6.89 to 7.20.
  • Feelings of happiness increased from 6.50 to 6.87
  • Feelings of anxiety decreased from 3.82 to 3.61.

Mike Evans, Chief Executive of the EFL Trust, said: “We are delighted to have won the Community Award at the Leaders Sports Awards for our ‘Tackling Loneliness Together’ project. Football starts conversations, helping people to connect, and we are immensely proud of how our clubs responded to the pandemic by putting their communities first and providing vital support for those who were at risk of becoming lonely and suffering the effects of deteriorating mental health.” 

Other activities that formed part of the ‘Tackling Loneliness Together’ project included: 

  • Afternoon tea parcels delivered to doorsteps in Stevenage 
  • Online walking tours in Blackpool 
  • Online book clubs in Middlesbrough 
  • Happy birthday calls from West Bromwich Albion 
  • Tablets pre-loaded with software enabling supporters to watch EFL fixtures in Northampton
  • Online seated exercise sessions in Crawley 

To find out more about the ‘Tackling Loneliness Project’ visit: https://www.efltrust.com/tackling-loneliness-together/


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