Let me ask you a question; what does the Foundation do?
Ponder that for a moment before you go on. You know (hopefully) through my stuff here that they do work within the mental health sector, which is one of the reasons I’m raising money for them at the Lincoln 10k later this month. Doubtless, you’ve seen their coaching sessions at times on the 3G pitch next to the ground, but what else do they do? How else do they impact the community and the club in a positive manner?
That was a question I sought to answer when I visited there earlier today. I’m aware of the Foundation and some of the work they do, but with the greatest of respect, football fans often scroll past news they feel they have no interest in. I’m sure the engagement a post from the Foundation gets pales in comparison to an update about the first team. They’re a part of the Lincoln City community, but one that people (me included) can often bypass. I wanted to address that, and Martin Hickerton, the CEO of the Foundation, took the time to show me around and explain their various projects.
It’s unreal; I can’t cover everything they do in this article; the scope is much bigger than I imagined. There are 32 permanent employees, and before anyone thinks they draw from the club, that’s not the case; the Foundation is completely separate in terms of an entity – they’re doing some solid work under the football club brand, but they are a registered charity, They deliver coaching in schools across the county, they operate Premier League Kicks and other activities engaging young people. I kinda knew some of that, but not the scope, with coaches out in schools every day. Those are children not just benefitting from the Foundation’s services but could well become fans of the future.
What blew me away was some of the other work they do, two sectors in particular. The first was within the local community, both around the Sincil Bank area and the wider Lincoln community. I never realised there was a language tutor there, delivering English lessons to immigrant communities and helping them to integrate. The Foundation has also renovated two small areas of land around the area, one behind PlayZone, and the other across the Sincil Drain, giving pride to people in the area. It might not sound huge to those living outside Sincil Bank, but it felt significant as Martin took me to both. They’ve also taken local children to Premier League matches to give them a football experience they haven’t had before.
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The focus for me in my charity run is mental health, and I was rather blinkered in what I believed they did. I knew about Andy’s Man’s Club, where people needing to talk can do so, but the Foundation also run Team Talk Football, where men can come together and play football. I was told numbers are up; that’s a good and bad thing. It’s good because the word is getting out there that the Foundation is creating a safe space for people who feel they can come and talk, have some fun and just get away for a couple of hours. The negative aspect is more people feel they need that, and my gut feeling is the number of people suffering will increase this winter. It’s why the Foundation run two sessions, on a Wednesday and Thursday, because they know it too; 2022 has been a tough year for many, and people need something.
That brings me to the Extra Time Hub, something I was fortunate enough to experience for myself. It is part of a national network aimed at people who are retired, semi-retired or approaching retirement. It’s a heated (crucial this winter) space with teas and coffee, and a range of activities. Whilst I was there I saw a game of bingo, some table tennis, bowling and curling. Attendance was good, but I could see the enjoyment the session was providing; life can be lonely, especially as the years roll by, and this great initiative provides a good opportunity for some socialising.
I spoke to one person there, who, for obvious reasons, I won’t mention nor go into too much detail, but they told me of their struggles in the real world, particularly with anxiety, and how they loved the Extra Time Hub because they felt like it gave them a weekly purpose, and kept them active and social. It was actually quite touching – I’ve spoken a lot about how I’m supporting the Foundation because I want to help people in our community directly, but to see that first-hand and hear exactly what they do from a person who has needed them was quite emotional.
When I say there’s too much for me to cover, there really is. The Foundation run sessions for various things across the county and even on the coast; they help cancer sufferers with fitness post-op, and I know from family experience that it is an amazing facility which does so much more than help get people fit – it’s all about purpose, focusing on a target and giving people self-worth. They do sessions for veterans, one of which recently attracted 70 attendees. Remember, veterans can be of any age, and often the support they receive post-service can be patchy. They run walking football, disability football, seated chair exercise, holiday clubs…. the list goes on and on. All have one thing in common; they’re aimed at improving the lives of the people who attend.
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Every person I spoke to at the Foundation had a smile on their face. That’s what you get when your job really does change lives, and I felt that from them today. For you and I, life-changing might be a big lottery win, paying the mortgage off or something like that, but for so many people, it is just speaking to someone twice a week; it is coming together under one of the Foundation’s sessions and feeling welcome. Simply being able to go the Extra Time Hub and sit in the warm, playing bingo, can be life-changing for some. I understood the Foundation did good things, but I’m not sure I appreciated that quite as much as I thought I did. Honestly, I chose the Foundation as my charity for the run because I thought they delivered mental health help to those who needed it in the local area, and I wanted to feel like my effort was helping the local community. I didn’t realise that they try to make everyone’s lives better, around Sincil Bank, in Lincoln and across the county.
I’m very fortunate because having this site means that people are willing to take the time to explain what they do, and I thank Martin and the team for their time today. All of this information is available on their website, and the media output from the Foundation is good as well, but I simply haven’t taken the time to fully understand what they do until today. From here on in, that will definitely change because I now appreciate the size of the impact they make on people’s lives under the Lincoln City family banner. It’s significant, and it’s something I’m honoured to be supporting on October 30th.
Please, if you can spare £5, or however much, do consider heading to the Just Giving Page and backing myself and Rob Bradley in our endeavours in the Lincoln 10k. The money the Foundation receive is not just put to good use, it is changing lives and believe me it may not seem like a huge amount to sponsor me, but it goes a long way in making people’s lives better.