As Brentford FC take up residence at their new home, everyone is looking forward. Donald Kerr, the Club's Vice Chairman who is also on the Board of Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, has spoken about the future. The below interview was carried out by the Trust and looks at what is coming up in the community.
The Trust ran a hugely successful #BeeatHome campaign during the government lockdown – running its community activities online. For you, what was the highlight of that campaign?
It is difficult to pick a particular highlight, but I think there are several things that really stand out for me. The way the Trust organised 600 activity packs to be delivered to local families was a fantastic initiative. We quickly came to the realisation that many families in the local community didn’t have access to back gardens or they lived in high-rise flats, and that life would be pretty stressful for the children and parents under these lockdown restrictions. To create these activity packs, which included physical activity and educational resources, was really inspiring.
I also think the role of Brentford players getting involved in our online activities and putting their weight behind the cause was fantastic. We had Luke Daniels taking part in an online quiz for children with disabilities and Tariqe Fosu running an online football camp.
In general, I think the way we turned 180 degrees in the space of a week and transformed all our frontline activity online was a considerable achievement.
As Vice Chairman of Brentford FC and its Community Sports Trust, why do you think it’s important that Brentford retains its community ethos?
Community has always been at the heart of everything we do.
When we applied for planning permission for the new stadium, the Trust were integral to the Club’s plans – with the aim of building a purpose-built education hub and office facilities. We demonstrated to the planning committee the Trust’s social value in the local community and since then that value has only accelerated.
Brentford players are also fundamental to this connection. These players quite simply add stardust to our community projects and provide a huge unquantifiable and emotional pull to our community activities. Young people come to us because its football when they wouldn’t come to other organisations: because we have this aura around us.
So, in essence, it is really important that the Club and Trust are part of the same family. We are all under the same brand – indivisible – representing the Brentford badge in the local community.
What exciting plans does the Trust have next year?
I think the Trust moving to the stadium site in 2021 – with community facilities and an education hub adjacent to the football stadium – will enable us to really turn up the volume of our community activity. I think the opportunity and potential to engage with more people of all ages and abilities will definitely happen.
We have also recently been awarded funding by Mercers Charitable Foundation to deliver a pioneering training programme to young people. Now, more than ever, young people need the skills and training for their future careers.
Also, with the opening of the new sports hub at Gunnersbury Park this autumn we can really turn up the heat on our sports activities both indoors and outdoors.
What challenges do you think the Coronavirus pandemic has caused for the local community and how do you think the Trust can help tackle these challenges?
I think this pandemic has identified a whole range of social issues – including the need for people to become more active and healthy. Health projects have always been an important pillar of the Trust’s work and I hope we can help more people get active.
The pandemic has also impacted considerably on young people’s mental health and I think our talented workforce can help tackle this through our engaging sports and education projects.
For more information about the Trust email [email protected]