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Liam O'Neil Wins Community Player of the Year

Cambridge United player Liam O’Neil has today been named as the 2017/18 EFL Sky Bet League Two PFA Player in the Community. Liam will receive the prestigious award on Sunday 15th April at the EFL Awards ceremony in London.

Liam, who grew up locally to Cambridge, was nominated for his involvement across a wide range of community activities including match report writing projects in local primary schools which encourage children to have an interest in writing. He has also been a strong advocate of Cambridge United’s mental health project including providing video content for lessons delivered in secondary schools. Liam also spoke about the importance of the Community Trust’s work at the launch of Cambridge United’s Community strategy Game Plan 2020 in December.

Liam commented, “It’s a privilege to be in a position where people might look at you as role model and I want to use that position as positively as possible. Having grown up around Cambridge I’m really glad that I can play a part in supporting the important work of Cambridge United in our local community and I’m humbled to have been recognised for this award.”

Ben Szreter, Cambridge United Community Trust CEO, said “Liam has been an exceptional asset to Cambridge United’s community work, he is always willing to be involved and takes that involvement above and beyond what is expected. Having grown up in the area he really understands the importance of Cambridge United to our local community and he is committed to ensuring we as a club can have as big an impact in our community as possible. Liam thoroughly deserves this award and everyone at Cambridge United is delighted he has been recognised in this way.

You can read more about the award and Liam's community work in this week's Cambridge Independent.

UK’s Number One Ranked Illustrator Runs Community Spray-Can Workshops at The Abbey

During February Half Term, Si Mitchell, a professional graffiti artist from Fakenham, ran two spray-can workshops for the local community at The Abbey Stadium as part of ‘The Library Presents…Arts Alive’ programme.

These events, Funded by Arts Council England, managed by Cambridgeshire County Council and created in partnership with Babylon ARTS, bring performances and workshops into the heart of villages and towns across the county. The programme is supported by volunteers from the local areas of 10 participating libraries. Joanne Gray, Partnerships, Projects and Funding Manager at Cambridgeshire County Council said: “the libraries and their communities have put together a fantastic programme of high quality arts activities that really is for everyone.”

During his career, Si has illustrated promotional material for bands such as Green Day and McFly and last year won the UK Illustration Championships, beating over 700 of his peers to top spot. It was therefore an amazing opportunity for local young budding artists.

In the morning, participants were helped by Si, and fellow street artist Peachzz, to create their own designs. These initial designs ranged from images inspired by Star Wars to SpongeBob SquarePants! Then everyone moved outside to the Habbin Stand and Si gave the young artists a tutorial on how to use spray cans sensibly, safely and effectively, and encouraged them to transfer their designs onto the boards that were provided. The results were fantastic.

One participant said: The event was awesome! It was very accessible for low income families.”

Simon Wall, from the Cambridge United Community Trust, said: “To see The Abbey Stadium being used as a creative space was incredible and is another example of how Cambridge United are broadening the ways in which we are connecting with the local community.”

Following the success of these sessions, there are already discussions taking place about putting on further workshops and Si has also promised to create an original piece of work for the club and put it somewhere in the stadium, so keep your eyes peeled!

Cambridge United supporting Samaritans

Cambridge United Community Trust are pleased to support Samaritans, a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide.

Volunteers from Samaritans’ local branch, which is based in Cambridge, regularly attend games chat to fans and hand out information about their services and the wider work they do in the community.

More than 6,000 people take their own lives in the UK every year, three quarters are men, and middle-aged men from poorer backgrounds are the most at risk.

Samaritan volunteers are there around the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Whatever you’re going through, anyone can contact Samaritans from any phone on 116 123. This number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.

You can also email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.

Time To Talk

Last Tuesday, Cambridge United Community Trust welcomed over 40 people to The Abbey Stadium for our first Mental Health Awareness Evening. The evening begin with an introduction to Cambridge United Community Trust followed by our three guest speakers sharing information from their organisations and experiences, discussing the importance of talking for our mental health.

Ruth Fox, Cambridge United Women’s player discussed her mental health story to begin the evening, followed by John Humpston sharing the work of The Cambridge Samaritans, finishing with Rob Earl representing CPSL Mind and Stop Suicide Cambridge, sharing about their work and his experiences.

Between speakers we also heard from a number of local services and organisations including YMCA Trinity, The Ollie Foundation, Richmond Fellowship, Psychological Wellbeing Service and Lifecraft. The evening finished with a Q + A with the main speakers with a brilliant opportunity to hear more directly from the audience and different individuals involved.

We look forward to our next Mental Health Awareness Evening on April the 10th between 6.30pm – 8pm surrounding the theme ‘Sport as a tool for wellbeing’. Please sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cambridge-united-mental-health-awareness-sport-as-a-tool-for-wellbeing-tickets-44018668021?aff=erelexpmlt

Cambridge United Sleepout

Last Friday, Over 50 supporters of Cambridge United, global campaigning charity Street Child United and homelessness charity Jimmy’s Cambridge took to the stands of The Abbey Stadium to raise an incredible £20,000 towards the future work of both organisations.

The evening consisted of talks by Cambridge United Community Trust, Jimmy’s and Street Child United representatives, followed by a quiz before the group headed to the stands for the night. All the money raised through the Sleepout will be divided between Street Child United and projects at Jimmy’s Cambridge delivered in partnership with the Cambridge United Community Trust.

Ben Szreter, CEO of Cambridge United Community Trust said, “It was fantastic to be able to raise so much money for some brilliant charities and to get a brief glimpse into what street-connected people in Cambridge and across the world face every day. It was a special evening with the community coming together on a freezing Friday night to sleep in the Abbey stadium and one that will live long in mine and everyone else attending’s memory.”

John Wroe, CEO of Street Child United said, “The Cambridge United Street Child United Sleep out was a huge success. We do this to show solidarity with homeless people in Cambridge and across the world who don’t have a choice about where they sleep. We do this one night a year- sadly many people sleep out every night.

It was special doing this at the Abbey Stadium - in a football ground. Our football grounds are a significant places to us- places of meaning where we invest a huge amount of hope where we shout and scream and sing, places where we have memories that no one can ever take away- places where we’ve had a dreams broken. And now we have a new memory – our own personal piece of history at the Abbey. My daughter and I slept on cardboard pitch side in the Away Managers dug out – I’ll always look across from the Habbin and know that we spent 10 hours, not sleeping, in that dug out at minus 4.

From a SCU perspective it was amazing to share our stories with members of the Cambridge United family – we were made to feel really welcome by everyone and the generosity of our communities in supporting us all was staggering. We are holding a World Cup for 216 street connected children in Red Square Moscow in May – young people who initially don’t have birth certificates, lets alone passports or visa’s- it’s a tall order but one that gets easier knowing that the whole world is on our side. I got the impression that everyone who was sleeping out on Friday night was with us. We were not alone, Cambridge United, Community Trust, Club, fans and players were on the journey with us and that means a great deal to me.”

Sandra Stevenson, Jimmy’s Cambridge volunteer who took part in the sleepout said, “It was a very realistic challenge of sleeping in the stadium in extreme temperatures to raise money and awareness for the work of Jimmy’s do across Cambridge. I was delighted to be involved to support the two great charities.”