A festival of football was the perfect way to bring ‘Burnley back together’ in the wake of Covid-19.
Held at Blessed Trinity RC College year nine students from the Ormerod Road school took part along with their peers from Unity High and Burnley High schools.
It was organised by the Youth and Community Alcohol Partnership (YCAP) Sam McConnell, a member of the Trading Standards team at Lancashire County Council and Blessed Trinity assistant headteacher Helen Nolan to bring pupils together again through their love of sport.
Burnley police, Beat the Street and Burnley Football in the Community were also on hand to offer advice and support to pupils who may have struggled during the pandemic.
Mrs Nolan said: “There is so much to shout about in Burnley with Towneley Hall, the Mechanics, the football club and more and we wanted to focus on the positives and bring pupils and people together after around 18 months of staying apart.
“The football festival was for pupils who aren’t necessarily in the school team but wanted to take part in an event again.”
The YCAP is a panel which represents schools in Burnley, children and family well-being services, youth services, the police, Calico, drugs and alcohol services, focusing on concerns such as alcohol and anti-social behaviour and trying to raise awareness of these.
Festival organiser John Kelly,who is Blessed Trinity’s head of year nine and PE teacher, said: “Covid has ripped communities apart and places like Burnley have suffered the most.
“For 18 months, kids have been limited to what they can do and it has had a massive impact on them
“So, this festival of football was Helen Nolan’s idea to start bringing the community together again by playing sport.”
Burnley Tesco provided some much-needed refreshments and Burnley FC In the Community’s youth services manager Lee Adams gave out leaflets along with disability programme co-ordinator Harry Pate.
“It shows the range of events we have on offer to the young people of Burnley,” said Lee.
PCSO Rachel Lonsdale added: “It’s a good chance for us to engage with young people in a friendly environment.”
Alexis Turner was also present from ‘Beat the Street’, the initiative from Burnley Together and the Canal and River Trust, which is encouraging people to explore Burnley.
‘Beat the Street’ is a community challenge to get people going out and about in Burnley, exploring and finding new places, such as parks, and to see what the town has to offer. There are ‘beat boxes’ all over town which people can tap to score points and points mean prizes.
Every pupil received a certificate for taking part in the football festival and they hope to organise another next year.