Football team tackles isolation and keeps players active with COVID-19 Prompt Action Fund

One of the team coaches delivering the pack from a safe distance

Posted on: 17 June 2020

A North Devon football team for young people and adults with disabilities has been keeping their players active, connected and entertained during lockdown with the help of the COVID-19 Prompt Action Fund.

Braunton FC Ability Team was created six months before lockdown to help members of the local community with disabilities stay active as well as build confidence and self-esteem. They currently have 25 members aged between 7 and 57 years old with disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, learning difficulties and epilepsy.

The support they offer became increasingly important after the outbreak of coronavirus, as Melanie, one of the ability team coaches, explained:

“People with disabilities and their families are much more at risk of feeling alone, isolated or anxious, especially during times like this. During lockdown we also realised that lots of our players were struggling to stay fit and active whilst at home – which is why we decided to apply for the funding.”

The team used their grant of £350, jointly funded by Devon County Council and North Devon Council, to help them make and deliver activity packs to all their members.

The packs contained a mixture of educational, physical and fun activities including a stamped and addressed envelope, so players could write and receive letters from a teammate, word searches, colouring sheets, toys, a sunflower kit, cupcake mix, treats and hand sanitiser.

Melanie said: “We want to say a massive thank you to Devon County Council and North Devon Council for supporting our group. It’s really helped us to keep supporting vulnerable people in our community. The packs have been very popular, and we have enjoyed being able to deliver them to our players – seeing them using their packs has been amazing and feedback from parents and carers has been terrific.”

Councillor Roger Croad

Councillor Roger Croad

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “Sport plays an important role in our communities, promoting wellbeing and tackling problems such as isolation and loneliness. People with disabilities and their families can be more vulnerable to the impacts of lockdown, and the work that Braunton FC Ability Team is doing to support their players is wonderful to see – I’d like to say a big thank you to all involved.

“I’m pleased that we’ve been able to jointly support this project with North Devon Council through the COVID-19 Prompt Action Fund, which was launched by the County Council at the very start of lockdown. Community and voluntary groups do invaluable work across the county and it’s important that we continue to work together to support them – especially during such challenging times.”

Councillor David Worden, Leader of North Devon Council, said: “A new initiative like this put on by Braunton FC Ability Team highlights just how important groups and clubs and the support they provide is to our residents. It really does make an enormous difference maintaining contact with friends and team mates to support each other during this time.

“I’m incredibly proud that we had the opportunity to work alongside Devon County Council and help further support this vital work provided by our community and voluntary groups through the COVID-19 Prompt Action Fund.

“North Devon Council has also supported the team before through our Community Councillor Grant scheme providing a grant to help fund the team’s new football kit. I wish the team all the very best for the future.”

Posted in: