Another incredible year: 2021
It’s been another incredible year for us, supporting more than 17,500 local people and winning various national awards for our valuable work.
At the start of 2021 as the country entered another lockdown we once again adapted to the fast changing situation by moving many of our activities, workshops, and further education courses online. But despite this challenging start to the year, we went onto have an exceptional 12 months.
In February, we were visited by BBC’s Match of the Day to film a feature about the charity’s creative work supporting children in schools. The filming took place at Breakwater Academy, in Newhaven, a primary school that AITC has supported for the past four years with football-themed PSHE, maths and literacy lessons. As part of the day pupils had a surprise virtual visit from charity ambassador Adam Lallana, who took part in a question and answer session.
As lockdown restrictions began to ease, we started to increase our face-to-face activities including welcoming participants with a disability and local schoolchildren to take part in a special play on the pitch session at the Amex Stadium at the end of the football season in May.
As part of This Girl Can week, Albion Women’s player Dani Bowman visited Cardinal Newman School in June. During her time at the Brighton-based school, she answered questions and helped facilitate a training session for the young girls. Throughout AITC’s programmes this year, we managed to engage with over 5,000 girls, promoting football as a game for all.
The work of the charity has received significant recognition through the year and September proved to be a fruitful month as it kickstarted an award-winning year for the organisation. For the fifth time in six years, AITC was recognised as the Best Football Community Scheme at the Football Business Awards.
This momentous victory was followed by two more national awards in October. The charity’s new Switch support programme, which, in partnership with Sussex Police, helps mentor young people to give them the best help for future success and diverts them away from becoming involved in crime, beat competition from other schemes across England and Wales to win the Children and Children in Care award at The Howard League for Penal Reform annual awards.
Elsewhere, AITC’s Brighter Outlook programme received the Health Equity award at the Royal Society for Public Health’s Health & Wellbeing awards. This programme supports anybody with a cancer diagnosis through physical activity and works with people before, during and after treatment. The programme was also visited by ITV Meridian in the lead up to the awards to find out more about how the initiative is helping local people in Sussex.
Entering November, AITC were able to host their first in-person fundraising event at the Amex Stadium since the start of the pandemic. The Big Ten Quiz, hosted by Rich Reynolds, was a huge success as the charity welcomed 150 people and raises over £5,000 for it’s important community work.
Also in November, participants from the Premier league Kicks sessions in Burgess Hill completed their bronze award for the Top Bins youth leadership programme that the charity delivers, supporting young people to consider theirs and other people’s wellbeing. In celebration of this, all the participants received a special medal and certificate, as well a personal video message of congratulations from Albion keeper Robert Sanchez.
In a year which has still had its challenges, Chief executive Matt Dorn has been delighted with what the charity has achieved in 2021, he explained:
“The important role of football clubs within their communities has once again been so evident throughout this year. We’re thrilled to see our ability to use the power of football to engage local people to get active, learn new skills and live well recognised and commended by national awards.
“I’d like to thank every single person who has supported AITC this past year. Without your support, donations and backing, the charity would simply not be the success that it is. Thank you.
“We look forward to continuing to us ethe power of football and the profile of Brighton & Hove Albion as a tool to engage more people across Sussex in 2022.”