Club in Focus - Ashingdon FC and the Probation Service

Club in Focus - Ashingdon Football Club and the Probation Service

The story of a remarkable collaboration across 9 years

Ashingdon, a grassroots football club, has partnered with the probation service to rejuvenate their beloved playing grounds. What started as a simple idea to improve the club’s facilities soon blossomed into a remarkable collaboration that has continued for 9 years.

In this time, they have had hundreds of people fulfil their community payback hours with the club. This scheme has become a huge part of the club. Barry (Ashingdon YFC Chairman) is hugely grateful for their help and expresses the difference it’s made as “indescribable” and “without their help I just don’t know how we would cope.”

Today, the football grounds of this community centred club stand as a testament to the power of collaboration and positive change. The impact goes far beyond the maintained grass pitches, freshly trimmed hedges and rejuvenated changing rooms. For some people in the Community Payback group COVID was an especially difficult and isolating time. People would go days without seeing or speaking to anyone, however, working with Ashingdon made this time a little easier. Nick (Unpaid Work Operations Manager, Probation Service) explains, “By working at Ashingdon not only did they complete their Community Payback requirement, it also gave them a sense of purpose and helped to regain some confidence they needed to start to look for employment”.

Without their help I just don't know how we would cope
- Barry, Ashingdon Youth FC Chairman

With this shared goal in mind, the grassroots football club and the probation service united their efforts. The scheme members motivated by the chance to make a positive impact, embraced the tasks wholeheartedly. They diligently mowed the fields, painted fences, and spruced up the surroundings. Barry has found their efforts extremely valuable. “All I can say is if you need help at your club, I can’t praise them enough”. What emerged from this collaboration was more than just an aesthetically pleasing playing area. It became a symbol of transformation and community unity.

The Community Payback Group Members have found working with Ashingdon a wholly positive experience, Nick expresses, “Barry offers lots of varied work at Ashingdon YFC, which helps to keep the group members motivated, interested, and challenged. He spends time talking and interacting with the group members and always thanks them for their work at the end of a session. The appreciation he shows, helps to create an environment of respect and a feeling that the group members and the work they complete is valued by the club and community”.

Nick Emery, Head of Development & Investment at Essex County FA encourages other clubs to consider if a link up with probation service and their Community Payback Programme could be of benefit to them. 'Ashingdon FC have demonstrated the benefit of partnering with the Probation Service. The club have provided a fantastic environment that has allowed members of society that for a number of reasons have become marginalised to do something positive and give back to their local community. We are aware of other clubs across Essex that have benefitted from the programme and I would encourage clubs, particularly those that maintain their own facility to enquire’

If your club are interested in partnering with the Probation Service, you can register your interest
by emailing:

Once a team contacts the above email address, someone will be in touch to arrange a visit. During this visit and prior to any work commencing, a health and safety risk assessment will be completed. This will be emailed to the contact at the team after the visit, along with a copy of the beneficiary agreement, that both parties agree to.

Basics required on sites:

  • Access to drinking water.
  • An area to rest in/eat lunch (they bring their own packed lunch).
  • A toilet with handwash facilities.
  • If you wish for the CP team to cut grass, you will need to supply petrol (E5) for mowers and strimmer’s.
  • If there are other tasks like painting, you would need to supply the paint and other equipment needed to prep, like sandpaper.

If your club has some good practice to share, whether it's starting a new football opportunity for a harder to reach group or a new volunteering initiative please complete the form below to be in with a chance to be our next Club in Focus.


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