In October 2021, the UK celebrated Black History Month (BHM) with the Premier League theme of ‘Proud To Be’.
To support the campaign, Burnley FC in the Community have now engaged with over 1,300 children in 16 different primary schools across Burnley and the surrounds, in a series of assemblies and classroom workshops.
The key learning objective of the DIG DEEPER, LOOK CLOSER, THINK BIGGER workshop is to give the opportunity to discuss and learn about Black History Month, understanding real history, human rights and why it’s celebrated, whilst exploring some influential figures from the Black community and their achievements in football.
Justine North, Deputy Headteacher at Worsthorne Primary School who participated in the workshop as part of the Premier League Primary Stars programme said: “We thoroughly enjoyed the session. I know that many children went home and ‘educated’ their parents on Thursday evening. I was delighted to see that our children are so accepting of the normality of diversity within football, and that they were so passionate about the wrongs that have been done in the past.
“It’s only a few years ago that we encountered quite a lot of negative responses from children and parents in the village regarding equality, and it is pleasing to see that attitudes have changed.
“I believe that organisations such as Burnley Football Club have helped massively to educate and change the somewhat racist culture that was evident in Worsthorne and other areas of Burnley, and that the club is a flagship in promoting inclusivity.’”
In attendance at Worsthorne Primary School were representatives from across Burnley Football Club and Burnley FC in the Community including Gwilym Jones – Primary and Secondary Schools Engagement Manager, Gurpri Bains – Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Lead, Sinead Kennedy-Peers – Communications Executive, Lola Ogunbote – Burnley FC Women’s Business Lead and Cara Bicket – Burnley FC Women’s player.
Gurpri Bains, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Lead for Burnley FC said: “Black History Month gives us all a chance to reflect and celebrate the contributions of so many people to our lives today, from Black inventors and activists to footballs trailblazers.
“We all have icons and today’s session at Worsthorne Primary School also touched upon footballs firsts across the men’s and women’s game, learning more about the achievements of Viv Anderson, Mary Phillip and one of my own icons Paul Ince has been so enlightening.
“I think us adults can also learn a lot from children too; It was important for the diverse panel to be in attendance today, representation is key, it’s vital young people are exposed to the different careers across the game particularly young girls, it’s the simple message of if you can see it, you can be it.”
Gwilym Jones, Primary and Secondary Schools Engagement Manager for Burnley FC in the Community, further shared the message of influence adults and young people can have, he said: “Burnley FC in the Community is embedded within Worsthorne Primary School through the Premier League Primary Stars programme; this gives us the opportunity to discuss a variety of inclusion campaigns throughout the year.
“With support from the Club and Burnley FC Women on this occasion, it further helps us enhance the children’s experience and highlights the important message around equality, diversity and inclusion.
“It’s brilliant to see the teachers engaged and the maturity of children in discussing such a significant topic which highlights the values of the Premier League Primary Starts programme – be ambitious, be inspiring, be connected, be fair. They all certainly demonstrated these values on our visit.”
Workshops and assemblies were also delivered to over 170 participants across the charity’s Community Welfare and Inclusion programmes, including to the Veterans Programme, Youth Service participants at Waterside Youth Club in Colne, and to over 140 young people as part of the Premier League Kicks programme at The Leisure Box in Brierfield.
Burnley Football Club and Burnley FC in the Community initially kickstarted their activity for Black History Month in October with their intention to combine BHM initiatives more broadly across the 2021/22 season.