The overall community winners were announced at the EFL Awards 2023, with Wigan Athletic being named the Community Club of the Season.
Community Club of the Season
Through Community Trust-run programmes, Wigan Athletic has reached over 11,000 people in the last year, with an average contact time of 27 hours per person.
While delivering programmes in health and wellbeing, education and employability the Club has particularly excelled in its ‘supporters project’, which uses funds to tackle loneliness among Wigan Athletic supporters in the deprived areas.
“We’re very proud and privileged (to win this award),” explained Gareth Nolan, the Club’s Head of Community. “We’ve had a difficult last 12 months, but it’s not stopped us from what we’re doing in the community.”
EFL Player in the Community
Omar Beckles (Leyton Orient)
Regularly active in the local community, Omar Beckles continues to dedicate his time campaigning for issues that are important to him.
In the last year he has devised a mental health campaign in local schools, runs a futsal club every Saturday, is heavily involved in Orient in the Community’s project zero campaign and personally mentors young people most in need on a weekly basis.
“I have got a massive passion for working with the youth through being in non-league football,” Beckles said. “I have gone through working with younger people who have been less fortunate. Through my journey I have had people that have been excellent for me and gave me a pathway and I’m trying to replicate that.”
Community Project of the Season
MK Dons – Knife Crime
Last summer saw MK Dons team up with Thames Valley Police to develop an anti-violence and knife crime education project, following a number of knife crimes in the area. The stadium hosted the Knife Angel statue to raise awareness and in doing so provided information to the 25,000 people who visited.
More than 70 Education workshops were delivered to 3,500 school children and during the month, almost 300 knives were surrendered at the newly installed amnesty bins at the stadium.
“Working with Thames Valley Police the decision was made to try to bring the Knife Angel to Milton Keynes,” recalled Maralyn Smith, CEO of MK Dons Sport and Education Trust. “With the support of the stadium and all of Milton Keynes Club Community Organisations, we managed to bring it to Stadium MK and work with 3,500 children and recruited 10,500 youth ambassadors to fight against knife crime in Milton Keynes.”