Volunteers’ Week takes place between the 1st- 7th June every year and is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK.
This week we have been celebrating and thanking all of the volunteers who support Sky Blues in the Community to deliver activities on behalf of Coventry City Football Club across Coventry & Warwickshire – making a difference to the lives of local people.
As part of Volunteers’ Week, Sky Blues in the Community (SBitC) are highlighting the journey of Ron. Ron has been a part of the Sky Blues’ Walking Football project for over three years and has recently completed over 120 hours as a Sky Blues Volunteer with the support of the Accelerate Project.
Sky Blues Volunteer, Ron, told us: “I found out about Sky Blues in the Community Walking Football when listening to a Coventry City Football Club match on the radio. I went down to the session, loved it and signed up on the day. Walking Football is a huge part of my life; I have met so many lovely people from the participants to the Sky Blues in the Community Coaches. My fitness has improved dramatically! I’ve managed to lose a stone and a half and kept the weight off by being introduced to a healthier diet and lifestyle by Sky Blues in the Community’s Health Team”.
In October 2016, Ron was one of the first to enrol onto the SBitC Accelerate Project (funded by the Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund to offer support to build confidence, give training, improve skills and provide valuable work experience). Through Accelerate, Ron successfully achieved a Level 1 Sports Leadership Qualification and gained the skills and confidence to apply to Sky Blues in the Community for a voluntary position.
Ron said: “I hadn’t been in a classroom since school - I struggled at first. The support I received on the project helped me achieve something I didn’t think I could do at my age. The programme opened the door to volunteering for SBitC – something I really wanted to do and enabling me to put something back into the community.”
As a Sky Blues Volunteer, Ron has been heavily involved in the running of the SBitC Player Development Centres (PDC) on matchdays – looking after parents, young players and spectators as well as serving tea and coffees and assisting in the car park.
Ron continued: “When I get some time, I head down to the pitch to catch some of matches and observe the SBitC Coaches – I get great satisfaction from seeing how happy the young players are when they score and the parents thanking me for looking after everybody.”
More recently, Ron has contributed his time to Sky Blues in the Community’s Prostate Cancer Walking Football programme – which is being delivered in partnership with University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire and Macmillan Cancer Support. Being diagnosed with Prostate Cancer just before Christmas 2017, Ron wants to raise awareness and inspire those with Prostate Cancer.
Ron said: “Playing Walking Football is great as it takes their mind off it. It’s a place where people can talk openly about prostate cancer. We have a chat and a cup of tea where we can share hints and tips of how to deal with the treatment – which has also benefited my progress. I also take the warm-up, pick the teams and referee – I want to set the example to others that you can still exercise, take part in sport and live life to the fullest. I’m pleased to say that some of the Macmillan group have also come along to the other Walking Football sessions Sky Blues in the Community put on – in fact Walking Football was the reason I went to the doctors to get checked out in the first place. Going forward, I would like to see more Macmillan Walking Football sessions set up by SBitC to further increase awareness and help people.”
SBitC Head of Community, David Busst, said: “We originally started the Walking Football sessions as part of the InForm Men’s Health project with funding from the Big Lottery Fund. We wanted to have an impact on the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of those 50+. A number of those who have attended the sessions have reported improving their fitness, losing weight, gaining confidence and building a support network. Ron’s story is a great example of this. The determination Ron has shown from the outset, how he has overcome his own personal challenges and his contributions as a volunteer is a real achievement. On behalf of Sky Blues in the Community, I would like to thak Ron for his continued support – he is a credit to himself and our charity. We work to make a difference to the lives of local people across Coventry & Warwickshire and, alongside our dedicated team, volunteers like Ron support us to do exactly that.”
To see more coverage of #VolunteersWeek, follow @SBitC_CCFC on Twitter. To find out more about becoming a volunteer for Sky Blues in the Community, please Email: firstname.lastname@example.org