Let's Talk Loneliness Let's Talk Loneliness
It’s ok to feel lonely, particularly at a time like this. Don’t suffer in silence, we can all help each other stay connected.

EFL Football Clubs have been bringing people together and connecting older people at risk of loneliness

This year has been unprecedented, but I’m very proud of our network’s phenomenal response. The EFL Trust supports and resources the 72 charities associated with football clubs in the EFL. We exist to create stronger, healthier, more active communities.

Since lockdown began in March, our network has delivered over 689,000 food parcels, sandwiches and hot food to vulnerable community members. There have been over 240,000 outgoing and incoming conversations with fans and EFL community members needing support during the pandemic. Over 30,000 PPE items and over 6,000 prescriptions have been delivered.

Our Club Community Organisation (CCOs) were not specifically set up to do this work, but they adapted quickly to the needs of their communities helped by our funders, including a grant of £810,000 from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which allowed us to expand our work tackling loneliness among older people.

Bolton Wanderers community worker with an elderly person, smiling and thumbs up to the camera

The statistics above, impressive though they are, tell only part of the story. Behind every statistic is a person.  

People like Edith from Wigan, who says:

“Lockdown has been awful because I’ve always been used to going out and now I can’t go out at all. I’ve got nobody to go out with and I don’t even go for a walk to the top of the street. I’ve stopped all my activities and I don’t go shopping anymore. I did sit at the front of the house in the summer which I obviously can’t do at the moment. I just got fed up of it. I just couldn’t cope with it so I rang the doctor…”

Edith explains what happened next:

“…The doctor contacted me on the Monday and then by the Tuesday I had a call from the Wigan Athletic Community Trust. I was really glad when I had that phone call – it was a real lifeline for me. I like joining their Zoom sessions, it’s made a big difference as when I wake up on a Tuesday…instead of thinking I’ve got nothing to do I know I can do my jobs and join the Zoom session at 11am.  It makes the day go quicker as every day seems a long time when you live on your own.”

Smiling elderly lady sat talking to someone from her door

On the other side of the country, Elaine from has also had help from her local football club.

“It made me feel quite emotional that someone who didn’t know me cared enough to get in touch during such a strange and difficult time. After our conversation I then received their activity booklets, including my favourite Sudoku, and there were invitations to join in walks, meetings and learn new skills.”

Like Edith, Elaine has found the regular Zoom calls with Lincoln City a vital lifeline. However if people did not have access to technology it further amplifies their isolation. So some of our CCOs have loaned people tablets and laptops. Access to technology is only part of the issue – learning to use the myriad of meeting software is daunting enough for the IT savvy – so our CCOs have provided guidance on how to use them. Joyce from Bolton was one lady who was loaned a laptop. She told us:

“I had never heard of Zoom and wouldn’t have known where to start being in touch with other people on this. Boredom is a large part of recent times and now I can actually see other people. Also it has enabled me to watch Bolton games which I have been missing badly!!”

Food parcels delivered by Wigan Athletic community trust

Another recipient of a tablet was Ray, a long term Derby County fan. Ray got a big a surprise when his IT support call turned out to be from none other than the Ram’s captain Curtis Davies.

Find out more and check out the list of all the clubs involved in these amazing projects.

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