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READ | Rotherham United and the British Red Cross Club Together Against Loneliness

23 March 2023

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As part of the English Football League’s (EFL) official charity partnership with the British Red Cross, Rotherham United took part in a new ticketing scheme for members of the community in a bid to help those facing loneliness and isolation.

The scheme will bring people together with other local fans to enjoy the nation’s favourite game to help reduce feelings of isolation that people may be experiencing and encourage new friendships and connections.

Janet Cocking, a retired nurse from Todwick, attended the new ticketing initiative with her son John. It was the first football match they had been to together, so they were both really excited. Janet knows all too well what it feels like to be housebound, after living with a long-term illness, she said:

“If it wasn’t for being offered tickets to the game I would’ve still been in bed”

Janet and John were invited to the event by the British Red Cross when they borrowed a wheelchair, from the charity’s mobility aids service.  John also said:

"This opportunity through the Red Cross enabled us to connect with lots of really nice people in vibrant surroundings and importantly spend some quality time together out in the fresh air, creating memories along the way.

It was such a memorable day out that ordinarily we would certainly never of contemplated having. The match result (2-0 defeat to Coventry) was literally the only thing that wasn’t perfect!"

It comes at a time when most people (84%) living in Yorkshire and the Humber believe loneliness is a problem in England, according to new research by the British Red Cross.  

The new findings released by the charity today show over 1 in 3 (35%)* of people in Yorkshire and the Humber are experiencing loneliness, and almost two thirds (65%) agree it's a bigger problem this winter than last winter. 

Over three quarters (76%) of those living in Yorkshire and the Humber, also agree that the cost of living will push more people into loneliness, and 42% of people in the region are restricting how much they socialise this winter. 

At Christmas, more than 2 in 5 people surveyed from Yorkshire and the Humber (43%) cut back on socialising in pubs, restaurants and clubs etc. due to financial concerns and 27% cut back on travelling to see family and friends. 

Daniel Collier, Mobility Aids Service Logistics Manager from the British Red Cross, an organisation that already supports over 100,000 people experiencing loneliness per year through its services across the country, said:

“Loneliness can have a huge impact on people’s health and wellbeing and is known to be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“The incidence of loneliness skyrocketed during the pandemic, as a result of people being cut off from their family and friends. Now the increased cost of living is forcing many to cut back and sacrifice on socialising, making people more at risk of becoming lonely and isolated.

“We know health and mobility issues can lead to increased social isolation and this ticketing initiative will provide a vital lifeline for people who may be struggling and feel desperately alone.”

The British Red Cross is the EFL’s Official Charity Partner and will be combining their efforts to reduce isolation in communities around the country via the EFL and its 72 clubs.

Jamie Noble, Rotherham United Head of Community, said:

“We’re committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of those living in our local community and are thrilled to be able to pilot this ticketing scheme with the EFL and British Red Cross. We hope that it will provide life-changing opportunities to those currently struggling with isolation and loneliness.”

Trevor Birch, CEO of the EFL, said:

“Through our partnership with the British Red Cross, we are using the unique appeal and reach of our Clubs to help reduce isolation and loneliness. Initiatives like the ticketing pilot launched today at Norwich City have the ability to bring people together, to build connections within communities, and allow people to unite through the power of football.”

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