In the run up to Diversity Day on Saturday, we’ll be sharing the stories of different people whose lives have been impacted, in a variety of ways, by Burnley FC and Burnley FC in the Community.
Age UK state that over one million people aged 65+ in the UK are lonely.
Burnley FC in the Community work hard to tackle this issue in Burnley by offering a welcoming, safe and friendly space for over 50s to socialise and make friends via the Extra Time programme.
Burnley FC is one club for all. This is Barbara’s story…
It was an invite from a neighbour that first led Barbara, 78, to an Extra Time session in March 2017.
Aware that Barbara’s husband Derek had recently passed away, her neighbours Pete and Carol – already regular attendees at the Wednesday morning get togethers – suggested the sessions may be something Barbara would enjoy, when she felt ready.
She said: “Carol and Peter simply told me to wait at the end of my drive at 9.45am on the first Wednesday I felt ready to face it. And that’s what I did – they saw me waiting, picked me up and we headed to Turf Moor.”
At first, Barbara chose to just listen to others and enjoy their company.
“Just to sit, natter and meet new people appealed to me. But in time I started to play carpet bowls and get up and about too. I like to be active at the sessions as well.”
Soon a regular face at Extra Time and establishing firm friendships, Barbara started to say yes to every opportunity presented to her through the sessions.
“All of us who attend the Extra Time sessions were offered a place on an IT course, so I went along to that to learn more about how to use my tablet.
"A new choir was also set up through the charity – The Clarets’ Community Choir. I joined that too and enjoyed it so much! We performed at the annual Christmas Carol concert at Turf Moor.”
Christmas also brought with it the Extra Time Christmas party. Every year, Burnley FC in the Community staff host Extra Time participants at Turf Moor, offering a three-course meal, party games and carols.
"In December 2017, Burnley FC’s Sam Vokes, Jack Cork and Adam Legzdins joined the 60+ party goers.
“The party was fantastic. I met Sam and the other players. They joined in the games with us – they were so down to earth.
“I also won a raffle prize recently to watch the Burnley v Bournemouth game from a hospitality box.
"Ten of us from Extra Time had a tour of the ground and a beautiful three-course meal. I absolutely loved it and the Clarets won 4-0. We must be lucky charms!”
With a well-established group of friends through the Extra Time programme, Barbara now socialises with her fellow participants away from the Wednesday morning sessions.
“We’ve been to Saltaire and Liverpool and we head out for lunches together. Sometimes we go to the Burnley Community Kitchen in the town centre.
"I’ve even been for lunch by myself. Before attending Extra Time, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go out on my own.
"But I knew the Burnley FC in the Community staff who run the kitchen would be friendly, like the staff at Extra Time. Even though I hadn’t met them before, I felt like I knew them.
“Extra Time plays such a big part in my life. I don’t like to think where I would be without it.
"When you’re on your own, you have a decision to make. Do I sit inside and watch TV or do I get myself out and do something about it?
"Extra Time has given me a life I didn’t think I would have.”
Abby Turner, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Burnley FC in the Community, said: “What an inspirational lady Barbara is.
"To find the strength to not only attend the sessions but to be the person that says yes to everything is proof of her spirit and her tenacity.
“She’s one of four people on just one street in Burnley who attend the Extra Time sessions and an example of how the power of the badge and the draw of the stadium can attract such a range of people to our club. We’re very proud to know her and to call her a Claret.”
Extra Time is Burnley FC in the Community’s award-winning health and wellbeing programme that aims to offer senior citizens a place to make friends and take part in physical activity.
Recently winner of the Companionship Award at the BBC’s Radio Lancashire Community Heroes Awards, Extra Time welcomes 60+ senior citizens, free of charge, to Turf Moor every week.
To find out more, click here.