AITC spread the message of inclusion throughout Sussex
The Rainbow Laces campaign unites everyone who cares about football to celebrate inclusivity in the sport and at Albion in the Community (AITC), the club’s award-winning charity, they are working hard throughout Sussex to ensure football is a welcoming game for all.
Working comprehensively throughout Sussex in neighbourhoods from East to West Sussex, AITC uses its strong platform with children and young people in our communities to celebrate inclusion and promote the importance of being ‘one team’.
Whether it is through educational workshops in schools, mentoring support with young people, or through the wide-ranging football programme the charity delivers, AITC aims to create a positive, inclusive ethos that demonstrates how football as a sport can be accepting and inclusive of all people including the LGBTQ+ community.
Sarah Byrne works at the heart of AITC as the charity’s lead for equality and diversity. In this role, she helps ensure the charity’s activities and policies create a welcoming environment for everyone.
“In terms of equality and inclusion, we want to be an organisation that encourages everyone to participate in our programmes. That’s the mission for us – making both our future and current programmes accessible so that everybody feels welcome,” she said.
“We strive to make all of our activities inclusive. Our staff receive training around how to be accessible, open, and welcoming and about non-binary and trans people’s inclusion.”
Sarah explained how AITC has used the Rainbow Laces campaign to support its promotion of inclusion within the local community of Sussex.
“We give out Rainbow Laces to many of our participants in our programmes as part of the national Stonewall campaign,” she shared. “By wearing Rainbow Laces, we’re asking people to not only show their support for inclusion but also to have conversations with friends, family, teams and clubs about why they are wearing them. Every conversation takes us one step closer to making football everyone’s game.”
According to Sarah, it’s also vitally important that local people across Sussex see their Albion heroes don the iconic Rainbow Laces. The purpose of the campaign is to initiate a conversation on the national stage, and she believes it sends a positive message to see top-level athletes recognising the importance of this campaign.
AITC have delivered workshops on homophobia alongside its programme of community football activities for many years and this is an important part of encouraging the conversation and understanding of how we can make football and our communities a safe place for all.
Sarah explains, “Our message is that education is key. It is not just about one-off awareness raising events, although they are important, it is also about educating young people through the year and encouraging people to think about their attitudes and behaviour.”
“The more you can speak about it the better. We each have the power to be welcoming and inclusive and we should encourage and support everyone to be part of ‘one team’.”
To find out more about Albion in the Community’s work, visit our website: www.albioninthecommunity.org.uk