As a passionate football fan and avid follower of the game, I have seen the positive impact that football clubs can have on their local communities - including Swindon Town.
The Swindon Town FC Community Foundation does incredible work to run a number of initiatives which benefit many different groups and people in Swindon. Earlier this year their fantastic work was recognised by the English Football League, as they were awarded EFL's Community Club of the Season for League Two – and I was honoured to join the group and watch them be presented with their award in Parliament.
I was therefore delighted to visit the new Swindon Town FC Community Foundation facilities last week and see their work first-hand. The impressive new facility, located next to the County Ground, was secured thanks to funding from a variety of sources including the Football Foundation, Government, and the Nigel Eady Trust. I am very proud to have supported the new building all the way through the planning process and it was brilliant to see the project completed.
During the visit I had the pleasure of meeting the very impressive Jon Holloway, who has transformed the Foundation into a thriving organisation which supports the local community and provides wonderful opportunities for all.
Through a number of different programmes, the community trust aims to provide everyone with the chance to enjoy football and increase participation for people from 18 months to 91 years of age. They run a mini-foundation programme, girls’ teams, walking football, disability football and an over 50’s activities programme.
Alongside Barnardo’s , they also run ‘Project Me’ which is designed to support children with mild to moderate mental health conditions including social anxiety and behavioural disorders. The programme uses sport and activity to support positive mental health and encourage social inclusion.
I am a long-standing proponent of the power of sport and have worked tirelessly both locally & nationally to ensure that everybody, regardless of ability or disability, can take part. This is a really wonderful, multi-million-pound facility. It has transformed the area and provided the Community Foundation a strong stage to carry out it’s fantastic work throughout our town.
Jon and his team do incredible work to make everybody feel a part of the wonderful Swindon Town family and I am really delighted that so many youngsters and others are benefiting. This is something that we as a town and a Football Club can be very proud of.
Following my meeting with Swindon Buses a few weeks ago, yesterday I met with Stagecoach to discuss a number of issues. Buses across the country are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic, and I was keen to hear about the positive effect the Government’s £2 fare cap had on their services.
I was also very interested to meet some of Stagecoaches apprentices who have benefitted from its Trade Up Scheme, which allows drivers to upskill to engineering role. I was very pleased to meet Wayne who had been a bus driver for more than 10 years before he took advantage of the scheme and transferred to an engineering role. This scope for career progression is hugely important for the success of a business, and it is great to see Stagecoach investing in its employees in this way.