A number of EFL Clubs including Bolton Wanderers will come together this week to launch ‘Extra Time Hubs’ – a national project designed to engage retired and semi-retired individuals and combat loneliness and inactivity in the older generation.
Studies show that 42% of those over the age of 55 are inactive and would like opportunities to meet peers to feel less isolated, live well and do things they enjoy.
Launched in line with Loneliness Awareness Week, the Extra Time Hubs will harness the unique assets of the football clubs to bring older people together and provide a range of activities that could benefit their physical and mental health.
Funded with the support of Sport England’s Active Aging fund from the National Lottery, the programme will initially be delivered by 12 EFL Clubs across the country, harnessing the power of football in local communities to bring people together. All 12 Clubs will hold launch events at their respective grounds throughout the next week.
Mike Evans Director of Operations at EFL Trust said “We have a BIG ambition – an ambition to help older people to create a national movement of Extra Time Hubs that will make a positive difference to how thousands can enjoy their later years. Extra Time Hubs will enable people to decide which activities they want to do and not be prescribed for them.as well as giving people the opportunity to meet like-minded people and feel less isolated”.
These people include 76-year-old Jack Hodgson, who attends Bolton Wanderers’ Extra Time Hub, he said, “The project helps us to do exercise and stay fit by taking part in activities such as Tennis and Badminton.
”It also keeps your brain occupied and I think that’s one of the main things really. To anyone thinking about coming down, I would encourage you to do so. Once you’re here, you’ll come back because the sessions are so enjoyable.’’
Mike Diaper Sports England’s, Executive Director for Tackling Inactivity, comments “Maintaining an active lifestyle as you grow older delivers massive health and social benefits. However, we know that you are more likely to be less active as an older person.
Often it can feel like the barriers to getting active grow as we age. But there are simple changes people can make to get active or stay active and Sport England invests National Lottery funding into projects like the EFL’s Extra Time Hubs to make that happen.
I believe that the EFL’s Hubs will go a long way in not only boosting activity levels for older adults – we also hope to see them bring people together, improve mental wellbeing and resilience while reducing loneliness.
The EFL and those working on the Hubs have taken specific care to understand the needs of the older adults taking part in their local areas to provide a fantastic service and prove that getting older doesn’t have to mean slowing down.”
Loneliness Minister Mims Davies said, “Loneliness is one of the biggest health challenges our country faces and we know that getting out and making new social connections can really help people feel less isolated. ‘Extra Time Hubs’ is a fantastic project, helping older people stay active and make friends – bringing communities together through sport.”
The 12 Clubs involved in the scheme are: Bolton Wanderers, Burton Albion, Charlton Athletic, Coventry City, Crawley Town, Derby County, Lincoln City, Northampton Town, Plymouth Argyle, Shrewsbury Town, Sunderland and Wigan Athletic