THE Burton Albion Community Trust is making a difference.
That was the overwhelming view presented by some of the most recognisable people linked with the town and its football club.
Members of the trust gathered at the Pirelli Stadium yesterday along with guests including Burton’s MP, the Mayor of East Staffordshire, and a wealth of the town’s business leaders to both celebrate the trust’s achievements since launching in 2010 and look towards a promising future.
The event was officially arranged to discuss the strategy going forward for the Burton Albion Community Trust, but perhaps more so than anything else, to pause to reflect on the giant strides that have been made since its humble beginnings.
Burton Albion has it good at the moment – that was made abundantly clear, with the first team currently riding high in League Two.
But what was also made clear was that the trust was separate from the football club, and in many ways more important.
Setting up the trust became an option when the Brewers secured promotion to the Football League, and after the first season of consolidation – the club wanted to make sure it didn’t run before it could walk – the Burton Albion Community Trust was born in September 2010.
Initially, it saw a handful of coaches entering a few schools across Burton delivering sports sessions, with it growing at an ever increasing rate ever since, to the point where the trust, although associated with Burton Albion Football Club, is independent from it and has to secure its own funding, is now employing people on a full-time basis and expanding into its own office space.
Trust manager Andy Taylor said: “To give you an idea of our progression, in January 2011, we were delivering sessions to three schools for 11 hours a week, in January 2012, it was eight schools and 36 hours a week. Now in 2013 we deliver to 25 schools for 90 hours, with 1,500 participants a week across East Staffordshire.”
But more striking than numbers of children taking part and other statistics is the high regard in which the trust is held in the town.
The trust wants to become the leading disability sport provider in the community and help to bring vulnerable and lonely adults out of the wildnerness.
Ron Clarke, who represents Burton Town division on Staffordshire County Council, said: “You’ve only got to think back prior to the trust coming into the area. We had problems with antisocial behaviour and issues with racism. Parish councils tried to throw money at it but quite frankly it wasn’t working.
“The support of Andy and the team has now turned that around. It has brought about radical change in the area and I think it will continue to go from strength to strength.”
The town’s MP Andrew Griffiths added: “Burton has some great families but it has some challenges too and I’m grateful to the Burton Albion Community Trust for helping to tackle some of those problems.
“Andy and the team can connect with young people in a special way which politicians and police can’t – we’re the establishment.
“If we can harness that and build on it, it could help solve some of the problems we are facing in Burton and help make it a better place to live.”