Coffee mornings set up by Tooting & Mitcham FC to combat social isolation are back up and running for the new year after making a strong start in 2021.
The club began the weekly Thursday sessions, boosted by a grant from the Trident Community Foundation, last September with the aim of bringing their supporters and the wider community together again following lockdown.
Around 30 unique visitors have since attended, with half of those now regulars, and community outreach lead Warren Andrews is delighted with the impact the initiative has had.
“Predominantly, we get a lot of older fans attending the sessions who live locally and have expressed a sense of social exclusion after the lockdowns and Covid,” said Andrews, also a coach at the club.
“Many of them are using these sessions as a chance to get out the house and spend time with people.
“The older fans have enjoyed feeling back involved with the club after a period of time where they’ve felt less engaged – one participant sent a letter thanking those that had organised for bringing back fond memories of his time watching the club in the 1950s with his father and brother.
“We’ve been really pleased with how it’s grown and we hope it continues to do so.”
The Terrors are among more than 30 clubs to have so far benefited from a grant courtesy of the Trident Community Foundation, established by Isthmian League partners Pitching In – a multi-million-pound grassroots sport investment programme set up by Ladbrokes with the support of its owner Entain.
In addition to financial support, the initiative places a focus on the importance of volunteers in the non-league game and Tooting & Mitcham’s coffee mornings have also given them new impetus in that regard.
“It’s worked as a means of getting people more involved on the volunteering side,” Andrews added, citing a survey which has shown more than half the attendees have since got involved with various tasks.
“It has helped people feel more of a sense of purpose at the club, be it selling programmes on a matchday, basic stewarding, making cups of tea in the boardroom or helping out with day-to-day maintenance alongside our regular volunteers.
“They’ve really got stuck in with some of the less glamorous work at the club as well as some things that are exciting to see, like renovating our club shop.
“Community outreach is a big part of what we do at Tooting & Mitcham – a lot of our academy scholars are volunteering in the delivery of the projects we put on – and the grant has helped make the coffee mornings possible.
“A lot of these projects need an influx of cash to get them off the ground and we then figure out ways of making them sustainable, which we’re working hard to do.”
Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports.
For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/