Free football tickets offer in bid to fight loneliness

Cllr Alison Webb, Ashley Bunn and Barbara Howard at Aldiss Park

Cllr Alison Webb from Breckland Council, Ashley Bunn from Dereham Town FC and Barbara Howard, social prescriber link worker, launch the new Inspiring Communities Season Ticket offer at Aldiss Park. - Credit: Breckland District Council

Fighting social isolation is the goal of a new scheme which will see 50 people given free season tickets to local football.

Dereham Town FC is donating 50 free season tickets which will be given to potentially isolated or lonely people, via a team of social prescriber link workers based within mid-Norfolk’s GP surgeries.

As well as attending local home games for free, the season ticket holders will also be eligible to attend regular social events, where they can forge new friendships and socialise.

The scheme is part of Breckland District Council (DTC)’s Inspiring Communities programme, which has seen more than £1 million funding ringfenced by the council to support some of the district’s most vulnerable residents. The programme focuses on tackling social isolation, mental health support, and drug and people trafficking.

Aldiss Park is the home ground for Dereham Town FC

Aldiss Park is the home ground for Dereham Town FC, located on the eastern edge of the town. - Credit: Breckland District Council

Through the programme, the team of social prescriber link workers, who are employed by BDC, will be working within local GP surgeries to support isolated and lonely people and open doors to local support networks and opportunities which will help break the cycle of isolation in the community.

Councillor Alison Webb, executive member for housing, health and communities at Breckland, said: “We can see from the Euros and the Olympics that sport has a fantastic way of bringing people together in an exciting environment, breaking down barriers and forging friendships in the terraces."

She said she was “so pleased” that the council and its partners were able to “create unique support and opportunities” for Breckland’s residents.

Ashley Bunn

Ashley Bunn, chairman of Dereham Town FC helps launch the new Inspiring Communities Season Ticket campaign. - Credit: Breckland District Council

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Ashley Bunn, chairman of Dereham Town FC, said: “We are delighted to be sharing these season tickets with the Inspiring Communities programme, which we hope will encourage isolated people in our community to come along, enjoy a match and feel part of the football family here at Dereham FC.

“Dereham Town FC is at the heart of the local community and we are truly delighted to be working again with Breckland council on another community initiative which will make a big difference for so many people.”

Surgeries taking part in the programme include Elmham, Toftwood, Mattishall, Shipdham, Theatre Royal and Orchard Surgery in Dereham.