Blackburn Rovers are thriving. On the pitch, the Club is striving for promotion back to the Premier League and off it, they are making a genuine difference to those in the local community, particularly those within the BAME community.
In a town where more than 30% of the population are from a South Asian background, a previous report revealed that attendances at Ewood Park were not fairly matching the town’s rich diversity.
Having recognised the importance of the Football Club mirroring that diverse demographic, Rovers sought to make positive change.
After researching the barriers to attendance, both transport and affordability were highlighted as the main issues preventing many people in the local community getting to games.
One key solution to improving the inclusivity of BAME communities in the Blackburn and Darwen area was to offer a bus service to young members of local schools, mosques, grassroots football clubs and children's community groups - introducing the aptly named Ewood Express.
The special travel service was first launched in February 2020, to reach diverse communities and make it as easy as possible for fans to get to a game, costing just £8 per child.
Transport is provided by the Club, and so far has brought more than 3,500 children to Ewood Park to watch Blackburn Rovers, proving invaluable to the local community.
Even at a time when there was so much uncertainty as to whether fixtures could proceed amid the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the work of Blackburn Rovers Community Trust continued to go above and beyond to not only ensure the Club remained at the heart of the community, but to ensure that Rovers is an accessible venue to all no matter the age, status or ethnicity.
With almost 35% of Blackburn’s population being South Asian Muslim, Rovers became the first EFL Club to host Eid prayers on the pitch last year, as well as actively promoting the use of their multi-faith prayer room on matchdays.
Halal food has also been introduced to Ewood Park, with one of the stands completely alcohol free. Alongside the introduction of the Ewood Express for children, the Club is making positive strides to break down barriers in the local area.
It was a proud moment for @Rovers - our first Diversity Award winner!#EFL | #EFLAwards pic.twitter.com/sK5CvhVcoA— EFL (@EFL) April 28, 2022