By Andy Hirst

A charity dedicated to helping people across Huddersfield has ambitious plans to expand over the next 10 years.

The Huddersfield Town Foundation is best known for its breakfast clubs in junior schools and is already seeing a rise in food poverty caused by the pandemic which will only get worse as inflation spirals upwards caused by a huge hike in energy prices.

Revealing its strategy for the next 10 years, Foundation chief executive Siobhan Atkinson says it now has a £1m turnover and the aim is to double that to £2m over the next decade.

Apart from the breakfast clubs, the Foundation now provides a wide range of services including lessons in schools to help raise standards in reading, writing and behaviour; walking football sessions for the over 50s; evening activities for youngsters to keep them off the streets and a Sports Memories project to help people with memory loss conditions.

Siobhan said the challenge is now on to expand these services and take them out to the communities. At the moment many are held at the Leeds Road Sports Complex but the aim to take them to places as diverse as Denby Dale, Honley, Batley, Dewsbury and Birstall.

She also said there will be a need to expand the number of school breakfast clubs too. At the moment there are 41 schools on the scheme and the Foundation has served two million breakfasts at a cost of more than £800,000 over the last 10 years.

READ MORE: The Town Foundation’s Big Sleep Out is back at the John Smith’s Stadium

Once the Foundation has set up a breakfast club it’s committed to it for the long-term but Siobhan says the growing need for more clubs is becoming more evident.

“The demand for breakfast clubs will only increase,” she said. “We have already seen the number of children registered for free school meals go up since the start of the academic year. We think it’s risen by around 20% since the beginning of the Covid pandemic and it’s likely it will increase further because fuel poverty and food poverty go hand-in-hand.

“Once we have started a breakfast club we won’t stop so we need to make sure each one is sustainable. If we withdrew a club then we would demoralise that community we’ve been supporting.”

Siobhan Atkinson

The Foundation is now also working with the Salvation Army to deliver food parcels to a different school each week to help families in food poverty.

Children on free school meals can also attend the Huddersfield Town Foundation soccer camps during the school holidays for free which also includes a hot meal each session.

The Foundation now has 26 paid staff – 24 of them full-time. They are already looking to expand that to 35 within the next six months.

Siobhan added: “Over the last 10 years the Foundation has grown so much that we are helping people aged from four up to their 90s. Huddersfield Town prides itself on it being a family-focused club and that’s exactly why we do what we do.”

Funding comes from a range of sources such as the Premier League charitable fund which supports around 100 professional football clubs nationwide.

Town striker Fraizer Campbell at Lowerhouses school

This gives the Foundation a core payment and provides grants for specific projects but the Foundation also needs to find other money too which may be locally through Kirklees Council and good causes such as the One Community Foundation in Kirklees through to national charity funders such as Children In Need and Comic Relief.

Then they do their own fundraising too such as The Big Sleep Out which this year will be held on Friday, February 25 at the John Smith’s Stadium and will see people sleeping on cardboard in the stands and on the concourses.

The money raised is split between the Foundation and charities tackling homelessness issues locally such as The Welcome Centre in Huddersfield and Batley Food Bank. The Big Sleep Out has raised £125,000 to help the homeless over the last five years.

Other fundraisers include a Ladies Foundation Lunch, a Foundation Ball in September and people can give £3 or more a month in regular giving.

The Foundation has three corporate donors and is looking to expand that over the next three years.

Siobhan said: “It may be we could become a company’s chosen charity for the year or they would want to support us long-term.”

The Foundation is now helping more older people. Its Sporting Memories sessions are for people with Alzheimer’s or the early signs of dementia and gives them the chance to think back to the greatest sporting moments they’ve seen.

Town legend Andy Booth talks about his career at some of the sessions which also feature quizzes and spot-the-ball competitions. It also gives carers the chance to meet up and chat too as their lives can all-too-easily become very isolated looking after their loved one.

Walking Football for the over 50s at Leeds Road Sports Complex encourages people to do more exercise and also helps to combat loneliness.

The Foundation’s walking football group

Youngsters get a chance to meet on Monday, Thursday and Friday nights for football but it’s now expanding into music workshops too. These sessions are called Premier League Kicks and are all free.

The Foundation runs several schemes for primary and secondary schools to help boost pupils’ reading and writing skills along with enhancing the skills they need for life, their self-confidence and can really help pupils who are turning their backs on education.

Siobhan added: “The Foundation has proved to be a force for good in so many ways over the last 10 years but successful organisations never stand still which is why we have such an ambitious strategy for the next 10 years.”

More information on The Huddersfield Town Foundation website

* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.