Community benefits of stadia highlighted at conference
18 Jan 2018
The benefits which major sports stadia can bring to the wider community were highlighted at a conference in Belfast last night.
Representatives from the award-winning ‘Everton in the Community’ initiative shared their experiences of how football clubs and their facilities can be used to positive effect and bring substantive benefits to the communities in which they are located.
Speaking at the ‘Ready For The Challenge’ conference, held in the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Philip Duffy, executive director of EitC, spoke of the many community engagement programmes undertaken in the initiative’s 30-year history.
Mr Duffy told delegates that the club took part in some 40 social programmes and supported 2,000 charities, working with 230 partner organisations. Since its formation in February 1988, EitC, who employs 116 full-time and 40 casual staff also has invested £6.2 million in community assets, including the Everton Free School and housing projects.
The conference was organised as part of the new Stadium Community Benefits Initiative, a ten-year, £1.5 million programme developed by Belfast City Council, the Irish Football Association (IFA) and the Department for Communities, which was launched last November.
The initiative aims to see the new Stadium act as a catalyst for a wide range of programmes and projects aimed at promoting community engagement through schools, clubs and youth organisations; supporting new and existing football clubs to increase their capacity to develop and grow; as well as generally promoting wellbeing and healthy lifestyle choices among the wider population.
The scheme offers opportunities such as coach education, volunteer training, club development support, Clubmark accreditation, school-based programmes and community events at the National Football Stadium.
The conference looked at issues such as youth engagement, mental health, volunteer development and female participation in all aspects of sport.