Dean and I launched the Foundation in July 2012, born from a desire to do good and improve the lives of people in the local community. Our initial focus was on the ‘Early Kick-Off’ Breakfast Clubs where we provide a free, healthy and nutritious breakfast for school children in schools in the area. I’m delighted that we are now able to provide this service to 29 schools in the local area, with even more on the way and the scheme is about to hit a huge landmark!
Huddersfield Town’s promotion to the Premier League has meant that the Foundation has been able to help even more people in the local community. Our links with the football club has given us the powerful tool of using football as a way of engaging with the local community.
We’ve been able to grow the charity and engage with the Premier League and other partners to service even more projects and the Town Foundation now employs 31 members of staff to help keep up with all the projects we carry out. We are grateful that 100 per cent of all money raised from the Town Foundation goes directly to benefit the local community, with all staffing costs met by Huddersfield Town and its club partners.
This year we’ve had some incredible success supporting the homeless people in the local area. We held the first ‘Big Sleep Out’ where we raised £55,258 by inviting fundraisers to sleep outdoors in one of the stands at the John Smith’s Stadium to raise money for local homeless causes.
We have also organised foodbank collection bins on match days and set up a meal voucher scheme with local homeless charity, Huddersfield Mission, allowing people to buy vouchers to give to people who need the support.
Our newest project has been the ‘Go For it Grant’ scheme, allowing us to financially support local community projects by offering up to £1,000 per application in support.
We have also put on free initiatives such as free cinema trips during the school holidays and at the time of writing these notes we were gearing up to take around 350 children to the seaside for the day.
As a trustee, I like to be hands on and see some of the great benefits from the projects in action. I was very proud to support Westborough High School compete in the nationwide Premier League Enterprise Challenge held at Leicester City’s ground.
They were very unlucky not to progress after pitching an app to make the John Smith’s Stadium more inclusive to a highly esteemed panel.
I was also in attendance as a Show Racism the Red Card event where 90 schoolchildren acted as reporters pitching questions at a press conference to first team players about their experiences of racism.
The More in Common movement by Kim Leadbeater – the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox – has been infectious. Kim is a friend and a Town fan whose energy and commitment to creating stronger communities through the Jo Cox Foundation is something I take a lot of personal inspiration from.
The club also has the Keep it Up campaign that supports the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, the scheme is now into its ninth year and I took part on the ‘Last Goal Post’ Bike Ride where we cycled 282 miles through France and Belgium, visiting the memorials of the six ex-Town players that lost their lives in World War I.