Blackburn Rovers’ decision to make the club as accessible as possible to every member of the local community was recently vindicated when the club’s official charity – Blackburn Rovers Community Trust – was delighted to be named as the Community Initiative of the Year at the British Muslim Awards.

An anonymous member of the local community put the club’s charitable arm forward for the prize in recognition of their services to the Muslim population within the town, but while there is undoubted pride at claiming the accolade, the team at Ewood Park are happiest knowing that they’re doing something right to help to integrate a town that welcomes a wide spectrum of faiths.

“We still don’t know who nominated us for the award, but we think it has been a very positive statement for the whole community to enjoy,” explained Lynsey Talbot, general manager of the football club and a trustee of the charity.

“We’ve been creating opportunities for local people regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or any other demographic for many years under our inclusive #OneRovers policy, so when one of the groups you support tells you that you’re doing something right, it’s a real motivating factor.”

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Blackburn Rovers has long been known as a family institution – backed up by also winning the EFL’s Family Club of the Year last season – and their actions back up that theory. 

They have recently brought the generations together through concepts like a fun-packed outdoor mela at the stadium, hosting an annual multi-faith football tournament at their training ground in partnership with Inter Madrassah Organisation and a ticketing initiative that invites first-time-attending family groups to enjoy live matches and exclusive behind the scenes tours.

“Once our guests arrive at the stadium, I think they’ll be positively surprised by our facilities,” adds Uwais Patel, a successful local businessman and a fellow trustee of the Community Trust.

“This season the club has opened a brand-new multi-faith prayer room, providing suitable prayer facilities for men and women, with adjacent washrooms.

“A large proportion of our matchday food is also Halal, as well as bringing in an increasing range of vegan and vegetarian options to help suit religious or medical based dietary requirements.

“It’s also a very charitable club, as seen by many of the initiatives we’ve undertaken this year alone.”

The charity he speaks of has helped organisations both locally and afar, with a large donation of kit to Ummah Welfare Trust helping to clothe refugees in Syria, while a matchday bucket collection in aid of the Indonesian Tsunami Appeal was the highest grossing collection of the current season. A fundraising overnight ‘sleep out’ at the stadium also raised £26,000 for local homeless charities in November.

“We’re the only club in our area to self-fund a community inclusion manager delivering anti-racism and citizenship projects, which is vital in a town as diverse as Blackburn,” explains Gary Robinson, chief executive officer of Blackburn Rovers Community Trust.

“The power of our football club can really bring this community together.”

This article is featured in the May edition of Asian Life here