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Brighton keeping Joe connected during lockdown

25 Mar 2021
Joe, Brighton & Hove Albion, WAOT

How Albion in the Community's disability programme has continued to provide support

Joe Campbell has benefited from Albion in the Community's (AITC) disability sessions for the last 20 years. And despite being unable to take part in face-to-face activities because of lockdown, he has been on hand to give encouragement to others.

"We are proud of all that Joe has achieved during his time with AITC but the way he has connected with others through this pandemic and helped support them too has been fantastic," AITC's disability manager Paul Brackley told Brighton's official website.

Joe was born with congenital ataxia, which affects a person's coordination and balance, as well as speech and language difficulties.

He first joined Albion in the Community, the official charity of Brighton & Hove Albion, when he was 10 years old. At the time, Joe was non-verbal and only used sign language to communicate.

He soon became an important member of the programme and the football sessions helped to develop his confidence and speech, giving him the opportunity to make new friends.

"These online sessions are proving a real lifeline for so many of our participants"

Albion in the Community disability manager Paul Brackley

As well as becoming a volunteer coach, Joe has two jobs, working as a roofing contractor's assistant and doing a beloved paper round.

The latter role in particular has helped him to become more connected with his community, and he regularly helps his neighbours with little jobs. His mum Jools puts his growth in confidence and improved social skills down to his experiences with AITC.

The arrival of the pandemic meant those connections were put on hold.

However, Joe has managed to stay connected with AITC as he has been a regular participant on their online programme designed to bring people together.

"The connection with Albion in the Community was so important for Joe," said Jools. "He lost so much with limitations around work, but it was great for him to see and speak with his friends and coaches.

"The sessions gave Joe something to focus on and was a huge support for all of us. We've seen him grow even more as a person and his confidence has developed through attending and making more new friends."

Staying connected

The online sessions, designed for the 400 people who regularly attend AITC disability sessions, include challenges, fitness and social events and give participants the chance to stay connected with friends as well as the club.

"We're all looking forward to getting back to in-person football sessions when it is safe and appropriate to do so, but for the time being these online sessions are proving a real lifeline for so many of our participants," Brackley said.

Community support

This is just one of the many ways in which Premier League clubs are supporting local communities during the coronavirus pandemic. Find out more here.

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