I think one of the most challenging aspects of the Covid crisis from a charity’s perspective is the way in which it has significantly upscaled the need for our services whilst also stripping away the streams from which we would normally seek to generate resources. Notts County Football in the Community (FITC) has certainly not been immune to this perfect storm. Under normal circumstances we operate 16 different projects focused on using sport and physical activity to promote increased health and wellbeing for some of the most disadvantaged, marginalised and vulnerable people across the City and County. These projects operate across five different program areas: Sports Development, Health, Inclusion, National Citizenship Service and Education. We also manage the Portland Leisure Centre and deliver a variety of projects from this site. There is not one aspect of our delivery that has not been significantly affected by Covid and our Leisure Centre has had to close altogether temporarily which has clearly brought about a loss of income.
However, the charity sector remains a very resilient sector and I think a lot of this resilience stems from our fundamental collective conviction to support those who are in need. That, in essence, is our raison d’etre and what drives us forwards. For us at FITC, we recognise that Covid-19 has brought to light needs within our community that would have otherwise remained hidden such as social isolation, health inequalities and poor or precarious mental health. We absolutely want to actively respond to the most immediate needs within our community but we also need to put measures in place to secure the future of the organization so that we are able to offer our life changing services to the community in the future as well as the present.
The ‘living out’ of this balancing act has meant that we have had to furlough about three quarters of the staff team, leaving us with a skeleton staff team of 12 who have been finding innovative and online based mechanisms to respond to the emerging needs of our population. We have been able to sustain the delivery of fantastic projects such as our Cancer and Rehabilitation Exercise (CARE) project and our Mental Health projects online and these have proved to be very impactful. We have also been able to respond, in a small way, to emergent needs within the community. For example, we have been able to open up our leisure centre on a very limited basis to provide rough sleepers with access to much needed shower facilities.
Given the restrictions in our capacity, the starting point when discussing how we might respond to the needs of our community during this crisis has always been to identify what assets we already have that might enable us to respond quickly and effectively. I think what has struck us as we have had these discussions is that, in many ways, the biggest asset that we have at our disposal is not necessarily something that we own or occupy as an organization, rather it is the very community that we are looking to serve. Community is the biggest asset we have, and its value is priceless. We know that it is the effective empowerment and mobilization of community that will bring lasting change, and this is an absolutely central objective for us when considering how to deliver our projects. We also know that the strongest communities are those that are diverse in nature and we want to actively recognise this by working in collaboration with a diverse range of partners when engaging and supporting our local community. Therefore if you have a passion for sport and physical activity and its life changing value to communities, please do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow us on Social Media using @NottsCountyFITC
Thank you very much indeed
Sam Crawford, Head of Income Development