The Equality Trailblazer
“With over 500 clubs and 2,000 teams, Northumberland FA holds a huge range of events (many for free) to help players develop.”
Northumberland Football Association (FA), a member of North East England Chamber of Commerce, is a Regional Winner in the Equality Trailblazer category in the Chamber Business Awards 2023.
As the governing body for football in north of Tyne, they are committed to championing diversity and promoting inclusion within the sport and the local community.
To ensure diversity and inclusion are central to their business, Northumberland FA has developed an Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy, which outlines clear aims and objectives (including providing free holiday camps and meals for children in low socio-economic areas, and delivering a football project specifically for refugees) to grow inclusivity in grassroots football. The organisation has achieved the Foundation Level of the Equality Standard for Sport and is working towards the next level. Their aim is to create a footballing environment that is “100% inclusive”.
As part of their Inclusion Strategy, Northumberland FA is reviewing their recruitment practices, policies, and processes, with steps such as blind shortlisting now in place. Their Board is made up of 50% female and 10% ethnically marginalised individuals.
Their Women’s and Girls’ Officer is bringing more women into football, through the Wildcats and Squad Girls initiatives. Their Inclusion Officer has launched ‘Inclusion Hubs’ and is developing opportunities for players with disabilities.
With over 500 clubs and 2,000 teams, Northumberland FA holds a huge range of events (many for free) to help players develop. The team works closely with clubs to ensure they have excellent facilities and help clubs draw down Football Foundation funding. They also work with around 1500 coaches, and train and support 580 referees, providing education opportunities to increase skills and progress.
Northumberland FA has undertaken extensive research to identify populations that require support to eliminate exclusion from sport, including those with poor mental and physical health, in low socio-economic areas and ethnically marginalised communities. By targeting these areas, they are actively working to ensure that football is accessible to everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances. This work has allowed the team to reflect on their purpose and really define what they are trying to achieve, ensuring it is woven into all parts of their delivery.
The association has established partnerships with various organisations and initiatives to support their diversity and inclusion agenda, including the Haref Network, Grassboots and Hat-Trick, and mental health charities like Kooth. Through the association’s SCARF (Securing Children’s Access and Retention in Football) Fund, they also provide grants to children facing financial hardship.
Northumberland FA is committed to the continuous development of diversity and inclusion in all areas of their business and encourages all organisations they work with to do the same. Their suppliers sign contracts committing to upholding appropriate diversity and inclusion values. They have a robust wellbeing programme for staff and all staff receive training around equality and diversity.
Their research and strategy have provided a roadmap for their work, enabling them to identify and address gaps in provision. Their commitment to diversity and inclusion has not only enhanced their operations but has also had a positive impact on the local community by fostering inclusivity, breaking down barriers, and promoting the benefits of football for all.
On the back of the success of the brewery site and events, Dal then set his sights on expanding both the range of products on offer and the footprint of the business. In December 2021, Dal agreed a 20-year lease on Christchurch Spire in Coventry city centre. The unique venue serves Dhillon’s beers and ales on tap, as well as offering hot drinks and food, to create a family friendly environment.
Dhillon’s next venture was the Sky Blue Tavern, a brand-new sports bar in the city centre, in partnership with Coventry City Football Club. The Tavern is a hub for Sky Blues fans to meet and enjoy a drink, whether on matchdays or non-matchdays, and helps to generate revenue and support for the club. As one of the only dedicated sports bars in Coventry, football and sports fans can watch the latest action on big screens and in individual booths.
Dhillon’s Brewery have now also secured several catering contracts, including with Historic Coventry Trust, where they provide food and beverage operations at the historic Drapers’ Hall, as well as at other Trust locations.
The company’s vision and long-term growth plan continues to be focused on its close association with Coventry whilst securing further locations and contracts, to build a sustainable, profitable business model whilst continuing Dal’s original passion for brewing beautifully crafted beer.
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