£10m and counting: investing in communities

As the mid-point of the season approaches, we take a look at how Burnley FC’s globally-recognised charity – Burnley FC in the Community – is impacting the lives of thousands of people in our community every day.

Since the charity’s inception almost five years ago, sustained investment of over £10m in our non-profit activities – £3.5m of which has been via Premier League funding – has established Burnley FC in the Community as a leader in the field of sport for positive change…

Three staff members. One office. A million ideas.

That’s what Burnley FC in the Community (BFCitC) looked like five years ago. After years of instability within the club’s charitable arm, the Clarets appointed Neil Hart in 2014 to establish a new community strategy and lead Burnley FC in the Community in a new direction. The remit for the charity was a clear one; with honesty, effectiveness and innovation, use the power of Burnley FC to be a force for good in the town and the wider region.

From the start, embedding the club’s community ethos into the operations of BFCitC was key. The partnership between club, charity and the town had to be an authentic one and so club directors Barry Kilby and Brian Nelson became Trustees, with Brian Nelson appointed as the Chair of Trustees in the summer of 2015.

Players are great supporters of the Community projects, with Chris Wood and Jack Cork (top) attending the opening of the Whitehough Outdoor Centre

By 2016, the club had invested £1m in the redevelopment of the corner of the Bob Lord Stand to include new headquarters, including a 60-seater office for the Community team.

With the guarantee of a suitable working environment for the rapidly growing charity to deliver its crucial work, the decision also ensured close joint-working with club staff.

Now in operation for almost five years, Burnley FC in the Community has successfully invested over £10m into communities across East Lancashire to date.

The club’s Premier League status in recent seasons has allowed Burnley FC in the Community to access in the region of £3.5m of this from the Premier League, via the bank of funds it has set aside to support non-profit work being delivered on behalf of clubs across the country.

This money is delivered directly into BFCitC’s charity accounts and via successful partnership work across the public, private and voluntary sector, BFCitC has more than matched this investment pound-for-pound. The result? Over £10m has now been invested into the communities surrounding Turf Moor since the charity’s inception in 2014.

So where has this money been invested?

Burnley FC in the Community, through astute strategy, careful planning and sustainable growth, has implemented and now delivers over 50 community projects to 27,000 people each year.

The Community Kitchen was officially opened in Burnley town centre in November

Based on a model of identifying a social issue specific to the local area and offering a viable solution to combat it, the charity’s broad portfolio of projects now tackle, as a snapshot; chronic loneliness, unemployment, mental health issues, poor academic attainment, anti-social behaviour, youth crime and physical and health inequalities.

Completely free of charge, thousands of people living across East Lancashire can now access disability sport sessions, weight management classes, parenting classes, male and female football coaching sessions, academic mentoring, employability advice, social sessions (i.e. for groups including senior citizens, veterans and those living with dementia), walking football sessions and cookery lessons.

The 100-strong team of local staff – made up of sport coaches, teachers, mentors, employability advisors, project managers, youth workers, health practitioners, marketeers, financiers and administrators – deliver their work in 88 primary, secondary and special needs schools and colleges, in community centres, at the Turf Moor stadium and at the portfolio of facilities the charity now operates.

The Turf Sleepout raised funds for local charities

Again, through key Premier League investment, BFCitC has acquired and now operates Whitehough Outdoor Centre in Pendle, UCFB Burnley at Turf Moor, the Burnley Community Kitchen and foodbank in Burnley town centre and, in early 2019, the charity will soon open up a 133,000 square foot community facility in Brierfield called the Leisure Box.

Over the course of the last 12 months alone, via Burnley FC in the Community, almost £50k in funds has also been distributed by the club to other local charities and smaller non-profit groups in the town including Pendleside Hospice, Jane’s Place, Emmaus Burnley and the Barry Kilby Prostate Cancer Appeal.

What’s next?

In early 2019, Burnley FC in the Community will open The Leisure Box facility in the old warehouse section of the Brierfield Mill site.

The huge, state of the art space will house indoor and outdoor sports pitches, a climbing wall, a soft play area, dance studios and classrooms – and 50% of the activities delivered from the site will be free of charge to the community.

The exciting new development has received a collective investment of around £4.5m to date, with circa £1m of this funding secured from the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund.

BFCitC was named as Community Club of the Year for the fourth year in a row at the 2018 Northwest Football Awards

The backing of Burnley FC Women – which now falls under the operations of Burnley FC in the Community – will continue into 2019. Officially sponsored by Michael Bailey Associates (the company founded by club chairman Mike Garlick), the women’s first team are battling for back-to-back promotions this season and further investment and infrastructure support is committed to support the growth of the female game at Burnley FC.

In January 2019, the Schools’ Mental Wellbeing Project will launch. Seven full-time mental health workers will be posted in schools across Burnley and Pendle to offer sustained support to young people across the region. For this project, there is a collective investment of over £600,000 over the next three years – with £250k grant funding coming into the charity via the Premier League and PFA Community Fund.

And finally, working in close partnership, the club and Burnley FC in the Community will aim to secure the Intermediate Level of the Premier League’s Equality Standard. Continuing with the mission to stamp out racism, homophobia and sexism wherever it is encountered at Turf Moor and wider within our communities, collaboratively the club and BFCitC will also champion equality and inclusion at Burnley FC into 2019 and beyond.

Finally, a word from Burnley FC and Burnley FC in the Community

Club chairman Mike Garlick said: “As a club we have backed the community strategy from the outset. Its remarkable evolution into an award-winning, multi-million pound charity in five short years is a source of immense pride to this club. The Premier League, as well as associated investment from multiple income streams, has been instrumental in supporting this growth in our non-profit work.

“The entire team have the 100% support of myself, the board, the manager, the players and all club staff and I extend my thanks to BFCitC’s Chair of Trustees, Brian Nelson and Neil Hart – who leads the charity on a day-to-day basis – for the hard work being delivered every day from Turf Moor. Long may the excellent work continue.”

Neil Hart, chief executive officer of Burnley FC in the Community, said: “We’re proud of how far we’ve come as a community club and, every six months, we’re keen to keep Clarets fans updated on the work we’re carrying out locally.

“It’s been quite a journey so far and, without doubt, the support of our many partners and the stand-out staff we have had over the past five years has been the catalyst in propelling us to where we are today.” For a comprehensive understanding of BFCitC’s work, you can read project and activity information in detail via the charity’s bumper 2018 Impact Report here.