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Karl in the Community

Earlier this year our community work saw us secure £10,000 in funding which covered the three initiatives Healthy Eating Teaching Materials, the Community Cohesion Project and, as we report here, the very successful Youth United Day.

Youth Tonic

There was a definite buzz in the air around Gigg Lane as FC’s players and fans began to arrive for the game against fellow promotion chasers Bamber Bridge on March 1st. As you would expect there was all the anticipation that a top-of-the-table clash brings but this was also FC’s Youth United Day and it was clear the feelgood factor was back at last following the havoc that the miserable weather had wreaked on previous plans for the event.

Weeks of planning by Karl and the community team, and in particular the volunteers, The Supporters Network and a shy board member that doesn’t like to take any plaudits (a clue: he’s the one with the spiky ‘b of the bang’ hairdo) came to fruition as over 1000 young uns turned up and boosted the attendance to an impressive 3348 the highest of the season so far.

The day, which was supported and funded by the Co-Operative Group, started with pre-match workshops attended by more than 400 young people at nearby Bethesda church which included drama, face painting and banner making. Rob Lees, who many reds will know through FC’s links with Moston Active Drama, really enjoyed the theatre workshops he held. “They gave young people who wouldn’t normally engage in drama a chance to try it out and I feel this breaks down a lot of barriers” said Rob. “This work we do with FC is, I believe, unique and shows that theatre and sport can work alongside each other as a means of engagement and we hope to carry on and further our relationship with FC United’s youth work.”

Plenty of activity took place around the ground too. The Co-Op provided a healthy-eating stall where delicious smoothies, tortilla wraps, fruit and healthy eating advice was handed out – all for nowt thus luring customers away from the burger van saving themselves £s and lbs! At the Junior Supporters’ stall there was an endless stream of youngsters and one or two big kids who should have known better taking advantage of the free face-painting arranged by Sarah Leuder of CAFRASS. Rossendale United kindly loaned a set of inflatable goal posts which made for an enjoyable sideshow and raised a few quid for the Development Fund. Bury Smoke Free group were on hand to dish out team posters as the under 18s were directed to free-entry turnstiles. Once in the ground a certain B of the Board member’s down with kids idea of supplying a cool, plastic gym bag full of gratis goodies including scarf and pin badge proved really popular and all 1000+ were snapped up. As mentioned earlier the trendy-barnetted one is far too modest to take any of the credit for the superb and utterly brilliant idea that he fabulously masterminded. Meanwhile the co-op were at it again giving out more freebies with their own healthy-eating fair trade goody bags.

You can read some feedback from attendees of the event here

The Co-Op Treble featuring Chatman & Robin

Those of you familiar with the rules of FC United of Manchester will know that the word ‘community’ crops up quite a lot, fifteen times in total including seven times within the phrase ‘benefit of the community’. In order for FCUM to do what it says in the tin (yes, the rule book is kept in a tin), the club is committed to a policy of inclusion which makes it and the matches it takes part in accessible to the whole of the community and in particular sections of the society which are currently under represented in football. The role of the community development officer is vital to our progress as a football club so not only does Karl Marginson have his work cut out trying to win us promotions, league titles and trophies he also has to work hard in his day job to ensure we achieve our off-field goals too. Karl is backed up by popular chatterbox Vinny Thompson and Robin Pye. Vinny’s superb communications skills include an impressive telephone voice that is so polished one can often be fooled into thinking that one is speaking to the queen herself. Robin, who’s name strikes fear into local bakers, is an unsung hero amongst our army of volunteers and his excellent links to local schools have proved crucial in the success of our community work.

It’s all at the Co-op now!
The Co-Operative Group is a great British Institution which started from a shop in Rochdale over 160 years ago. Like FC United it is member owned and now provides a variety of services including food, healthcare, travel, funeral care and financial services. The Co-Op places importance on ethical issues and supporting local communities is at the heart of its values, so it was one of FC’s best results so far when the invaluable work of Vinny helped by Karl and Robin secured almost £10000 to fund some of our community work. This covered the three initiatives Healthy Eating Teaching Materials, the Community Cohesion Project and Youth United Day.

Karl’s Cootie Catcher
Anyone who has spoken to Karl Marginson will know that he is an excellent people person and is good company amongst young or old alike, such is his ability to get on the same wavelength of anyone he his communicating with. For the Healthy Eating project it was the kids that Karl got tuned in with. The objective was to produce a paper fortune teller that would engage primary school children with a kinaesthetic learning style and deliver the message of the importance of healthy eating. As a child you may remember making a fortune teller yourself from a square piece of paper which was folded a certain way and marked with numbers and colours which would ultimately reveal your destiny. Karl’s design carries the FCUM logo and several healthy eating messages; there is also blank space for the children to fill in their own healthy eating ideas in order to give them some ownership of the concept. Four thousand of the fortune tellers were produced to be distributed amongst primary schools and junior football clubs in Tameside, Salford, North Manchester, Bury and North Trafford and also to children attending FC matches. If you’re too cool or grown up to admit to remembering these mystic devices it was the thing that Butters was made to steal from the girl’s sleepover in a episode of South Park.

FCCCP (Don’t panic! it’s not lefty political propaganda).
The aim of FC’s Community Cohesion Project is to build on the work our club has already done in our efforts to attract socially excluded groups to games. We don’t want to change the world (just yet) but initiatives such as this one can change the way a football club can impact on the local community. Some of the diverse organisations the club have worked with include:
Northerncare - an organisation running homes for young people in the North West.
Children & Families Refugee & Asylum Seeker Service (CAFRASS) - a Greater Manchester organisation working with asylum seekers.
St. Peter’s Youth - organisers of Asian male and female youth football teams.

The club is to extend this work by reaching out to more organisations that work with minority or socially excluded groups that currently do not get involved in football our goal being the improvement of community cohesion in the areas we serve.
Margy has set up coaching sessions with these partner organisations and arrangements will be made to bring each group to one of our games later this season and in the early part of next season.

Youth United Day A fantastic success and easily the biggest buzz around Gigg Lane this season. More on Youth United Day in the next Karl in the Community piece. During the meantime, if you got a spare 5 hours, ask Vinny about next time you see him at the game.

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