Director’s Report

The strategic report of The Albion Foundation’s progress


THE Albion Foundation uses the power of Football to make a measurable, positive difference, raising aspirations, growing and fulfilling potential in local people of all ages, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic backgrounds.

We pride ourselves on growing our own staff to live by our core values, be happy in their work and be proud to deliver the highest quality provision in 3 key areas of Education & Engagement, Sport Development & Disability Sport.

We are recognised locally and nationally for our valued partnerships which tackle key issues and truly inspire our participants to achieve.

The quality of our work and the impact we achieve enables us to create surplus funds which are reinvested to “give back” and provide more opportunities to change lives for the most deprived as we connect West Bromwich Albion Football Club (WBA FC) to its community.

We employ 47 full-time and 93 part-time staff, supplemented by more than 140 volunteers whose aim is to “Inspire to Achieve” on a daily basis.

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Our strategic principles are as follows:

  • To make a difference and raise aspirations
  • To connect West Bromwich Albion Football Club to its local community
  • To grow our People and our Participants

We have a clear vision for the future of the Foundation where we strive for the following:

  • To be the best deliverer of education and engagement, sport development and disability sport activities in the country

Our key focus areas of work are as follows:

Education & Engagement

The Albion Foundation Education Centre is the focal point of our educational offer. We are an alternative education provider commissioned by local schools to work with pupils on the verge of or excluded from mainstream provision.

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This year we have been commissioned by 20 (2015:28) schools and 89 (2015:70) pupils have attended the school. The attendance of pupils has been 76% (2015:91%), 35% (2015:49%) have returned to mainstream and the remaining 65% (2015:51%) remain with us or have been moved on to a more suitable provider.

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Complementing this provision is our outreach partnership work in schools. We work on a range of programmes such as improving attendance in secondary schools, mentoring and improving attainment with children in care or foster homes, deploying Inspire Coaches full time in to schools to add value to both the curriculum and out of hours provision and providing specific support through our Enterprise programme. This programme engaged 484 pupils (Target 450) and worked with 14 schools (target 10).

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This year has seen progression to working with the 16-24 year old target audience with our employability programme Barclays Works. This programme worked with a cohort of 35 (Target 30), of these 13 found employment, 19 went back in to education or training. We provided 24 qualifications and 27 work placements.

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Through our Kicks programme we signpost the pupils to participate in our range of positive activities, working in partnership with the local police to deliver these programmes in identified anti-social behaviour hot-spots. Last year we engaged with 1,217 (2015:1,111) young people through this project. We were tasked with targeting the 14+ age group and reached 690 (Target 619) and females 202 (Target 170). We engaged with 58 volunteers (Target 56), ran 28 competitions (Target 6) and had participants gain 22 qualifications (Target 15).

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Disability Sport

Our Disability Sport programme provides high quality adapted sports coaching and develop personal relationships by motivating, inspiring and raising the aspirations of the children with disabilities and learning difficulties.

We have been able to expand our programmes in to Dudley, Birmingham and Worcestershire in the last 12 months and over the latest 3 year funding cycle have worked with 1550 (2015:995) people with disabilities and or learning difficulties and delivered disability awareness to 3,756 (2015:7,976) children in mainstream schools.

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Last year we were working with an average of 571 (2015:530) people with disabilities and or learning difficulties on a weekly basis. We had 153 (2015:153) members of Sporting Club Albion, worked in 4 (2015:5) special schools, and with 17 (2015:15) special education units in mainstream schools.

We work closely with Sandwell Adult Services and local Day Care Centres to provide similar opportunities for adults with disabilities and learning difficulties. As part of this partnership we have been able to use the superb bespoke facilities at The Portway Centre which is a leisure centre adapted for all forms of disability.

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Further progression for our participants is to then play and represent West Bromwich Albion at regional, national and international level through our Sporting Club Albion model. We have 16 disability teams, a blind team, 5 powerchair teams, 7 PAN senior teams, PAN Ladies team and 2 PAN Junior teams.

We are able to provide opportunities for all ranges of abilities providing recreational and social opportunities and elite coaching and competition with currently 8 international athletes representing their country.

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Sporting Opportunities

We have developed strong partnerships with a number of schools to deliver a comprehensive and concentrated programme of delivery that compliments the national curriculum. The key focus is on developing lasting relationships within the school that will enable real progress over a period of time.

Last year we worked in partnership with 77 (2015:50) schools, with 14,737 (2014:10,044) pupils, delivering 25 (2015:25) roadshows, 22 (2015:17) Albion Ambassador courses, 24 (2015:19) fundraiser days and 15 (2015:15) World Cup Days. We also established a Post 16 Football Development programme with schools and colleges which had 116 students participate.

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Our aim is to inspire a love of sport for all the children we work with and provide as many opportunities out of school for them to develop their skills.

Our focus is on football development and we have a structured pathway of opportunity where every child can find their level and we work closely with local clubs and other sports to signpost children. From age 3 upwards there are programmes that culminate in our Player Development Centre’s which then lead to the West Bromwich Albion Academy.

Last year we worked with 300 (2015:380) players in our evening centre programme, 844 (2015:326) in our Player Development Centre’s and of these 56 received a trial with WBA FC’s elite squad, 14 (2015:12) progressed to the Club’s Development Centre, 3 of which have signed for the WBA Academy and 1 signed by Walsall FC. In addition, the transition of players from Academy to the Foundation and back to the Academy is 31.

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This pathway is replicated for girl’s football development as we provide through our Sporting Club Albion model a girl’s centre of excellence at ages 9 to 17 and a Ladies first team playing in the Women’s Northern Premier League. We worked with 520 (2015:181) girls in our community sessions, and had 93 (2015:90) girls and women representing Sporting Club Albion. The Ladies 1st team won the FA Northern Premier League in 2015-2016 but were beaten in the Super League play-off where victory would have led to promotion to the Women’s Super League. They also won the County Cup for the first time.

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We have also identified a lack of opportunity for basketball progression in Sandwell so we are creating a pathway for male and females again through Sporting Club Albion. We currently have a Men’s first team playing in the English Basketball Division 4, an under 18 boys and girls team and an Under 16 boys team We also have U17 & U19 teams playing in West Midlands Youth Basketball League (YBL) and senior Women’s playing in West Midlands Women Basketball League (WWMBL) and an U14 development squad. We worked with 387 (2015:376) participants in our grassroots PL4S basketball programme, had 15 (2015:10) students on our elite basketball performance programme in partnership with Dudley College and 70 (2015:45) players representing Sporting Club Albion.

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Our wider Premier League 4 Sport engagement programme saw us develop 29 satellite sport specific hub site (Target 20) we engaged with 820 participants (Target 720) of which 588 (Target 580) were aged 14+ and 362 (Target 300) were female. We worked with 79 volunteers (Target 20), ran 24 competitions (Target 6) and had 66 participants achieve a qualification (Target 34)

From providing high quality coaching we look to identify future staff through our volunteering programme which covers sport, disability and alternative education. We provide volunteering opportunities, professional development workshops and mentoring. We had 149 (2015:133) volunteers last year.

This year we took on a Football Development Apprentice Coach who has been part of this system for the last 3 years. We now have a further two apprentices in the Foundation and are delighted that our first recruit to this programme has graduated in to a full time position within the Foundation.

Key Areas of Development

Events and Fundraising

We have continued to grow and expand this area of the Foundation. 2016 saw the Foundation celebrate their 25th Anniversary and there were a number of events and fundraising activities linked to this.

  • The Full WBA FC playing squad took part in the 25th Year Anniversary Launch as they participated in our Disability Team Building Day, which was filmed for Match of the Day.
  • 31 staff and WBA supporters completed the Yorkshire 3-Peaks Challenge
  • 16 staff and supporters spent 10 days working in Kenya on a local school and orphanage project
  • 27 cyclists completed the Baggies Bike Challenge from Norwich to The Hawthorns cycling a total of 166 miles
  • Foundation Ambassador “Blind Dave” Heeley completed Escape from Alcatraz – in San Francisco one of the toughest Triathlon’s in the World to raise funds for the Foundation
  • 4th Annual Foundation Golf Day at Edgbaston Golf Club with a record 21 teams and 80+ participants
  • 25 Year Challenge – staff and supporters completed 25 hours of football activity on the Hawthorns pitch and WBA FC Community Sports Hall

All of the above raised significant unrestricted funds and raised the awareness of the Foundation’s work.

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Overseas Development

The last 12 months have seen the Foundation working in India, Nigeria, Sweden, China and Kenya. The programme has enabled us to expand the reach of the Foundation and the Football Club, provided excellent staff professional development and rewards whilst specifically in India and Kenya impacting on Corporate Social Responsibility agenda’s

In partnership with the Football Club we expanded the “Pass it Forward” changing lives initiative working in some of the most deprived areas of the city. Coaches visited Delhi 4 times during the year and WBA player Jonas Olsson made a visit during the close season to raise awareness of the work out there.

Report pic.. work out thereChair of Trust’s Closing Comment

2015-2016 has been an excellent year for The Albion Foundation with positive progress in all our key objectives. It has seen us celebrate our 25th Anniversary with a number of high profile events.

We have worked hard to create a culture and ethos within the Foundation that we now feel is embedded. The positive working environment has produced high quality standards of delivery, enhancing our reputation further and strengthening our partnerships. We believe we are adding value in a much more focused way and having a much greater impact.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our partners, sponsors, trustees, donors, volunteers and an extra special thanks to the team of staff for their outstanding contribution once again.

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For more information on The Albion Foundation and our activities, call us on 0871 271 9840.