Football Club’s Community Work Boosted By Technology

VITAL community work which uses the power of sport to help people from different sectors of society is now being supported by a new technology system.

Carlisle United FC Community Sports Trust, which provides education, training and mental health programmes to people across the city, has adopted a contactless visitor registration system to help keep participants safe in line with government regulations.

The Econnects system uses a QR code to log names and contact details, and stores the information securely to help organisations and businesses comply with the Government’s Test and Trace scheme.

John Halpin, manager of Carlisle United FC Community Sports Trust, said: “It’s been a real winner for us. Our staff register on the app when they come into the office, and the students on our further education courses also use it.

“We’re also asking parents whose children are taking part in our soccer camps during October half-term to use it when they drop off their kids. If they don’t have a smartphone, then we can log them on to the system when they arrive using an iPad.

“During the soccer camps we ran in summer, we had to deal with dozens of pieces of paper, but now we can cut down on the paperwork by using this system instead.”

Since the first lockdown restrictions eased, the charity resumed its community projects including sports coaching in primary schools and its soccer schools, in accordance with government guidance.

John said the charity is now back to about 75 per cent of its pre-lockdown community work.

“We’ve had to change the way we do things but the work is still the same,” he said. “We have reduced the numbers in our soccer schools to allow for social distancing and implemented new measures for working in primary schools. There are some things we can’t do, but we’re doing as much as we can as safely as possible.”

The charity’s work focuses on promoting a healthy, active lifestyle through sport and community-related activities. Its programmes include offering BTEC and degree level sport qualifications, providing a high quality PE programme for schools, weekly sessions to support mental health and specific projects aimed at reaching disaffected young people.

John said: “Because we are affiliated to a football club, we’re able to connect with people who may be disaffected with school or disengaged from their community. We have a brilliant team who are able to work with them and empathise with their situation. We want to bring them into the community and on to the right path, and work with partners to help achieve that.”

Developed by Eco, a proven solutions company based in Annan and Mealsgate, near Cockermouth, Econnects is a simple-to-use visitor registration system which involves scanning a QR code to log names and contact details. The information is stored securely ensuring that organisations and businesses are GDPR compliant, but can be quickly and easily accessed if required for Test and Trace purposes.

Mike Jefferson, director and head of Eco’s Comms division for Communications and IT, said: “The Econnects system is designed to help organisations and businesses operate within Government regulations in a simple, easy-to-use way. It’s important that organisations continue to deliver essential services in the community, and business owners are able to focus on their day-to-day operations. Knowing this solution is in place provides reassurance and confidence to staff, customers and anyone using the service.”

Carlisle United FC Community Sports Trust was founded in 1990, and became a registered charity in 2008. The team of 14 is made up of community coaches, education officers and office staff who help deliver a variety of programmes.