Players’ Charity of the Year: Families United Network
We are delighted to announce that the Hatters squad have chosen Luton-based charity Families United Network (FUN) as their players’ charity of the season.
FUN is a member-based charity supporting children and young people living with additional needs or disabilities throughout Bedfordshire, offering leisure opportunities, activities and clubs that families without disabled children take for granted.
What began 20 years ago as a group of families who would go swimming together, or meet in hired halls, became a charity in 2002 and moved to its present premises in Britannia Estates on Leagrave Road in August 2015.
FUN aims to provide support for over 500 families by creating a relaxed and non-judgmental environment which supports inclusion – and Scott Cuthbert, Danny Hylton, Andrew Shinnie, Dan Potts and Olly and Elliot Lee got involved in the FUN and games during Holiday Club this week!
The Town players were in the ball pool, playing skittles, air hockey, pool and giant Connect Four with the children, as well as posing for selfies and signing autographs before being given a tour of the charity’s sensory room, lounge, IT suite, meeting room, coffee shop and offices.
Captain Cuthbert said: “It’s always great as a player to be able to reach out to local charities and when Families United Network popped up as a candidate to be the players’ charity, it was an obvious one for us to choose.
“As a parent, you take your children’s health for granted a bit at times. It’s not until you come into situations like this, where there are children as young as my daughter that struggle with autism or any form of disability, that you realise. It’s nice to come here and give a little bit back to the community.
“Some of these boys and girls come to the games regularly to support us, so it’s nice for us to show our support for them.”
More than 70 children were in attendance on Tuesday afternoon, making it the busiest day of the school holidays so far.
“They were saying the kids have shown up in their numbers today because they knew we were down, and that’s great,” adds Cuthbert. “It brings the kids out, and their parents as well. They can have fun on the bouncy castle, play bowling, jump in the ball pit or play pool – there are so many activities here for them to take advantage of.
“Charities like Families United Network struggle with the publicity side of it, reaching out to people. With our profile within Luton, we can help to raise their profile and funds that they can put into these great facilities and continue helping the young children.”
The charity’s community and corporate fundraiser, Laura Smythe, said: “We are a small local charity in Luton who support and help children with additional needs and disabilities throughout Bedfordshire, but we are still little known, so this means the world to us.
“It means the name of our brand can be out there, we can be on Luton Town’s social media, and we can shout from the rooftops that we’ve been lucky enough to have been selected.
“Today has been the best turn out that we had through the summer holidays and we’ve been overwhelmed not only by the fact that the players were here, but that they were so engaging and they got involved. The children have photos and memories that are going to stay with them.”
Allison Smith is mother to 12-year-old Hatters supporter Morgan, who lives with autism. They have been using FUN together for ten years.
“The facility here gives Morgan the opportunity to come and enjoy herself, but it also gives me the chance to get out of the house and meet other parents,” said Allison. “It is a lifeline for us, so it’s brilliant that the Luton players are supporting FUN and helping the charity.”