Sunderland AFC and Foundation of Light scoop regional community club of the year prize
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One of six EFL clubs selected, the winners were chosen for the outstanding impact they are considered to have had in changing people’s lives for the better across a wide range of areas - including physical and mental wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, employability and tackling loneliness.
Through the Foundation, SAFC has continued to be a driving force for good within the community throughout a uniquely challenging year. The club and foundation have worked alongside each other, and supporters, on a range of city-wide initiatives.
The #BeAGameChanger campaign and #SunderlandTogether initiative, which raised over £170,000 for local charities, received special praise from the EFL’s panel of judges.
Other projects’ achievements were also recognised, including the work of the Northern Gambling Clinic, based at the Beacon of Light, as well as the Foundation’s partnership work with the Sunderland Specialist Stop Smoking service - encouraging fans to ‘kick the habit’.
“We congratulate the Foundation of Light for this richly deserved award for the fantastic work they continue to undertake within the region,” Chief Operating Officer, Steve Davison, said.
“Our supporters also deserve immense credit for the inspiring fan-led initiatives that have supported the community over the past year – a period when many have needed it most.
"Sunderland AFC has an integral part to play within the city and we look forward to continuing to support the people and organisations that make a hugely positive difference each and every day.”
Commenting on the news of the award win, Lesley Spuhler, the Foundation of Light’s chief executive, said: “This has been a year like no other for all of us.
"The role that football foundations have played across the country is amazing and shows that football clubs are not just about 90 minutes on a Saturday – they are at the very heart of their communities.
“As we celebrate our twentieth year, to be awarded the Your Move Community Club of the Year for North East and Yorkshire is a perfect way to celebrate the work we have done not only over the last year, but over the last 20 years. It is a real honour and is a source of pride for our staff.
“I am immensely proud of the role they have played in supporting our communities across Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham; often going the extra mile despite their own personal challenges as a result of Covid.
"Of course, we can’t do any of this on our own and as always, thanks must also go to our strategic partners, donors and funders.”
Over the last year, the Foundation has run over 10,000 sessions across a portfolio of 40 programmes - working with over 320 families and 100 schools, besides supporting 2,200 people with registered disabilities.
The six winning clubs will receive their awards at a special virtual EFL Community Awards event on Wednesday, April 28.
An overall winner will be announced at the EFL Awards, which is to be broadcast live on Sky Sports Football on Thursday, April 29, at 7.30pm.