By Tony Dewhurst
York City's sponsors Benenden Healthcare Society have extended their investment by teaming up with the club's Community Trust as their health and wellbeing partner.
It is a massive boost for York's go-ahead community team and the npower League 2 club, who regained their Football League status last year after an eight-year absence.
Marc Bell, Marketing and Business Strategy Director at Benenden Healthcare, said: "We already have a fantastic relationship with York City as club sponsors and we were keen to build on this by allowing the club to use our expertise in health and wellbeing within their community work.
"We were very impressed by the extensive range of activities the community's charitable side undertake and wanted to play a full part in that this year.
"This is made easier by the fact that community is central to our ethos as a membership-led mutual organisation."
The health and wellbeing partnership will run throughout 2013 with an extensive plan of collaborative projects to take place in the local community including sponsorship of fitness sessions, fundraising events and competitions.
The Nuffield Health York Hospital, who treat Benenden Healthcare members, will be getting involved to deliver health checks on fans and local residents.
"This is a fantastic development for York's community scheme and working with Benenden Healthcare is the perfect link because they are hugely supportive of the football club, and their involvement will have a big impact on the new Health projects we will be launching this year," added York City Community Trust's Development Manager, Paula Stainton.
A brand new scheme - Back to Boots - aimed at men over 40, will be offering free health checks, advice on diet and exercise and ways to improve lifestyle.
"Supporters will be able to have a free health check on March 16, the day of our home game against Port Vale, and we are also rolling out the scheme across the city.
"With the help of Benenden and Nuffield, we hope to make a real difference."
Stainton admits that City's community team have 'signed up for everything' in terms of The Football League Trust programme and initiatives they can now deliver.
The club has offered five work placements for Year 10 and 11 pupils as part of npower's What's Your Goal competition, whilst running npower Respect workshops, which use young people's love of football to encourage respectful behaviour.
"The What's Your Goal pupils will be working throughout the club, including the club shop, assisting the communications managers and also working in the community office, shadowing my work duties, " said Paula.
Equally important as the funding, for Stainton, is the access to a greater support network that has been provided by promotion back to The Football League.
"In the Conference, we never really had that opportunity to gain support from a national body or network with other clubs," she said.
"For several years, there have only been four events at which we could meet with other clubs to find out what they were doing and learn from each other's experiences.
"It's really helpful to meet other people who are doing the same job day in, day out and we are part of a big organization now.
"When we attended The Football League Trust annual general meeting everybody was really supportive and we know they are there for back up if we need something."
New relations have already been forged with neighbouring League 2 rivals and Capital One Cup finalists Bradford City, who invited 30 of the Minstermen's Junior Reds members to this season's game at Valley Parade.
The University of York's new sports village has also been sounded out about the possibility of a partnership that could lead to an over-40s football league, among other ideas.
Stainton added: "The word community means different things to different people and we have to remember that.
"It's not just about going into schools and running development courses and holiday camps.
"We are just incredibly excited because it gives us the opportunity to do things that we were already doing bigger and better."
What's Your Goal? 2013 again sees npower working with all 72 Football League club community trusts to offer over 350 valuable work experience placements across a whole range of different roles to students in Years 10 and 11 at their local Football League club.
npower is also searching for a 'dream team' of 11 ambitious and enthusiastic youngsters to spend a day being mentored by one of the successful sportswomen who have come on board to offer their time, knowledge, and support to the programme, providing invaluable experience. Students in Years 7 to 11 are invited to apply for the chance to spend a day shadowing one of the high profile experts such as Clare Balding.
To find out more about the roles available please click here