Published: Tuesday, 18th October 2022

Genesis Football, which welcomes homeless and vulnerable residents to Gillingham for free friendly games, has been awarded Best Project at the Kent FA Workforce Awards.

Genesis Football club, in partnership with Medway Sport, Medway Night Shelter, St John’s Chatham Church, Ambassadors Football, and Anchorians FC, has been recognised for its work to use the power of football to reach socially isolated adults.

The free weekly sessions, funded through Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund, offer homeless and vulnerable adults from Medway and wider areas free football training, friendly kick-abouts and a hot meal.

Anchorians Football Club members, St John’s Chatham’s minister and regular club attendees collected the Best Project award on Thursday, 29 September at the Ashford International Hotel in Kent.

Since the club’s launch in January, more than 35 vulnerable adults have visited the Watling Park Football Centre in Gillingham and many have accessed further support available to them through the sessions.

Attendees are signposted to support available to them through St John’s Church in Chatham, or by talking to each other, and are provided a hot meal from the Medway Night Shelter. Vulnerable adults are also given hygiene packs to use in the showers at the club after the session.

Socially isolated adults who are interested in the sessions are invited to turn up to Watling Park Football Centre in Gillingham on Thursdays from 10am to 12.30pm, booking is not required and the sessions are free. Residents can also find out more on our website.

Have a warm meal and enjoy a hobby

Cllr Howard Doe, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “I’m so pleased that this incredible project is getting the recognition it deserves and I’d like to say a huge well done to every member of staff, from all organisations, for their hard work. It’s important that we look after vulnerable and socially isolated members of the community and this club gives them a chance to have a warm meal and enjoyment from a hobby. We have received great feedback from the club and look forward to seeing it continue, with availability for others to join.”

Benefitted socially, physically and mentally

Anchorians FC Coach, Andy Brown, said: “Being part of this football project has been fantastic, and seeing how everyone is benefitting from it socially, physically and mentally is brilliant. It's such a valuable local scheme for people in Medway, and I'm glad that Anchorians have been able to be part of this opportunity for the community."

Delighted at the difference this project offers

Reverend Belinda Beckhelling, Medway Night Shelter Coordinator, said: “As a Night Shelter, we are delighted that the difference this project offered by volunteers is making to the life chances of an often forgotten or misunderstood people is recognised in this award. Thoroughly well-deserved.”

Self-esteem, social interaction and fitness improved

Reverend Luke Bacon, St John’s Chatham representative, said: “As a local church, being involved in Genesis Football is a wonderful practical way in which we've been able to support and serve our community. I love seeing how people’s self-esteem, social interaction and even fitness has improved through joining us on Thursday mornings. We are hugely grateful to all the partner organisations that have come together to make this project possible.”

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