Brighton & Hove Albion’s charitable arm has mirrored the club’s success on the pitch expanding its reach and making great strides in improving the community in Sussex and beyond. Albion in the Community travelled to Parliament to celebrate last week, as Alex Lawson reports.
Officials at Brighton could be forgiven for being relatively unimpressed by the hallowed halls of Westminster in visiting the House of Commons last week. Anyone who has visited the club’s new stadium will attest the rip-roaring atmosphere that ripples over the local valley is up to anything that Prime Minister’s Questions can offer, even in its most fierce debates of national importance.
The club is on the up on and off the pitch. Albion in the Community (AITC) press officer Dan Tester believes the 150-strong team are “not just providers, but a synthesis of expertise who reach out to all sections of the population”, something recognised when Brighton scooped the Community Club of the Year in 2009.
“With the community at the heart of all we do, there are few that offer such a wide variety of social initiatives, including disability, education, health, social inclusion, international, environment and sports participation programmes,” explained Dan.
AITC estimates it has directly benefited 47,821 people in Brighton and Hove, Sussex and across the world and worked with more than 400 partners during the last year.
The club’s on-field success, rising to tenth in the Championship and coming up as League One winners last year, has raised awareness of AITC’s work. The charity has been showcasing its work on matchday via its big screen and in the programme, as well as increased local news attention.
The club’s Want to Work programme is delivering. Last week, 16 beneficiaries from the Brighton Job Centre completed an Exercise Studies Level 1 qualification at the stadium with classroom sessions and IT tuition key to the teaching.
AITC has also enabled a student from Brighton University to participate in the delivery of the course to assist in their own teaching qualification, and three beneficiaries completed a one-day introduction to work.
Last week’s visit to parliament represented a significant milestone in the charity’s history. Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, employees of stadium sponsor American Express, Albion representatives Ken Brown and Martin Perry, University of Brighton representatives, local dignitaries, and business leaders joined the Football League Trust’s Lord Mawhinney and the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Dave Palmer alongside 50 AITC staff. The organisation will be pleased with the stage to put across its message for the county in which it operates.
Albion life president and AITC chairman Dick Knight presented a history of the scheme and its importance to the people of Sussex, while Caroline Lucas presented an overview of the breadth of AITC’s reach and the crucial role it plays in its community.
She said: “The reception was an excellent opportunity for the charity to talk to MPs, business leaders and other guests about its success with initiatives such as the disability programme and adult education schemes.”
However, AITC also recognises the potential it holds to use the power of football to help in other countries. AITC delivers health-related coaching projects to some of the most deprived communities around the world.
The organisation will set its performance against strict objectives at home and abroad.
Dan added: “At a local level, our long term vision has been for everyone, regardless of whether they live, work, visit or study in Sussex, to take pride in this community and how they can help AITC continue to improve it. We present the question: ‘what does it mean to be a part of Sussex?’”
The exact answer to this may remain hanging in the air but on the evidence of AITC’s work it is something to be proud of.
Tags: Albion in the Community, Brighton & Hove Albion, Caroline Lucas MP, Community, Community Matters, House of Commons