EFL Day of Action: Linda's Story

EFL clubs are coming together today to highlight the positive impact football has in changing people’s lives and tackling some of society’s biggest issues. Up and down the country this year, football clubs never went away and continued to support their communities through the most challenging of circumstances...

At Cambridge United, we’re looking back at the ‘Forever United’ work this past year celebrating Linda’s story as an example of how we have combatted loneliness amongst seniors within our community.

Our Forever United project for Seniors has had great success: engaging 335 seniors in a whole host of different programmes and Linda was one of many who we supported through this difficult period.

Going back to March of last year, the need for support within our local seniors became a priority recognising that this demographic group would be the most at risk. In the first three months we made over 1,200 wellbeing check-in calls to those over 65 and opening up a Community Careline where seniors could ring up for a chat or to request shopping or pharmacy delivery. Receiving funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) through the English Football League Trust’s “Tackling Loneliness Together” we then developed our offer further.

In so-called “normal times” we would run seniors’ lunches, afternoon teas & dementia sports cafés. Of course, we had to cease in-person events and in their place, we created an accessible online community to keep connected to our senior participants. We set up virtual afternoon teas to ensure that groups of seniors could continue to meet virtually providing technology to those that didn’t have any, such as Linda alongside support with using such technology. Indeed, when Cambridge United matches started back up, a group regularly met up online to watch the games on iFollow. We also started to run ‘garden-gate’ visits where our Communities Manager, Simon, would visit seniors to have a catch-up at a safe distance.

Through the programme:

  • We have helped reduce anxiety by 9%. (June 20 – January 21)
    Over half scored “significantly lower” in their feeling of isolation. (June 20 – January 21)
    96% of participants felt the Forever United programme had made them feel more socially connected. (January 21).

Linda’s story summarises that Cambridge United can be and is more than just a football club and we’re delighted to be able to share her story on EFL Day of Action.