OCTOBER marked six years since the charitable arm of an Oswestry football club was formed.

The New Saints FC Foundation established in 2013 to work in the community and offer services for children of all abilities to enjoy.

Starting off with physical activities put on for youngsters, the Foundation has since expanded to offer youth clubs, fortnightly sessions of sporting fun at The Venue in Park Hall and holiday camps.

It also provides All-In sessions in conjunction with Shropshire Council – a scheme which aims to provide a safe, fun environment for all children.

The Foundation has worked with hundreds of children over the past few years, and has proved to be invaluable to a lot of families.

Sarah Fairclough, parent to eight-year-old Josh Bruce, was made aware of the Foundation through her son’s school youth club.

It was then that she began taking Joshua to more of the TNS Foundation-led events, and she insists the help she has received has been of the highest quality.

“They used to have an age limit of eight years and above for the school youth club,” she said. “But it was then lowered it to seven and above meaning Joshua could go.

“When Joshua became eligible, I got in touch with Wayne Greenshields from the Foundation who runs the club and explained the situation to him.

“Wayne was brilliant, he wasn’t fazed by it. It was then that he signposted me to, not just the Foundation, but to the Shropshire Council All-In facility.

“It helps children with additional needs, whether they have been diagnosed or not – it can sometimes take a while for people to be diagnosed for things like ADHD, so it can therefore be difficult to get the provisions without having been diagnosed.

“So that was our way in, and then the Foundation does fortnightly sessions at The Venue with sporting activities for everyone in attendance.

“After being involved there, he started to get involved with other sessions like the summer holiday ones.”

Sarah said Joshua, who is now a regular at the sessions, is waiting to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

With that in mind, she said it can sometimes be difficult to find suitable clubs in the community to understand his needs.

She said: “The stuff that they do, particularly the All-In sessions with Shropshire Council, has just made such a difference to us.

“There’s two sides to it for us – Joshua is waiting to be diagnosed with ADHD, so although it is recognised that he needs additional support, it’s not formally recognised in terms of what that support needs to be.

“And so, for us, it’s not just that they offer holiday clubs and all the other things for neurotypical children, but it means that because Joshua is involved with the additional support side of things, he can get involved in the every day activities supplied for everybody because of the support they give him.

“So, it’s all very positive for us.”

Sarah said she is very grateful to the staff at the Foundation for the work they do, and said they have helped with Josh’s development.

“Josh has got to a point where he feels comfortable; he knows the staff, they know him and he manages himself well when he’s around them,” she explained.

“He’s learnt a lot from spending time with the staff at the Foundation, and it’s meant that he’s happy and feels safe there.

“He’s changed dramatically from when he started going to the sessions, he’s like a different child because of what they have been like with him.

“Our involvement with them has made a massive difference – the people at the Foundation are amazing.

“This year, he was waking up every day in the summer and asking if there was a session on and asking if he could go.

“It’s so unique. Joshua sees the people who work there, even though they’re adults, as his mates.

“They just seem to have the answer to everything to keep all of the children engaged and happy.

“They really do care for you. I have their phone numbers and I’ll get a message off them asking how school’s going for him, and if he doesn’t turn up for a session, they message to see if everything is ok.

“It’s not just a case of turning up to the sessions and that’s it – they do really seem to care for the kids.”

Gill Jones, manager at The New Saints FC Foundation, said the organisation aims to help as many children as possible in Oswestry and the surrounding areas.

“We have the same aims as the community engagement teams at other clubs; we offer a range of activities in order to make physical activities available to a wide range of children,” she said.

“Originally, we were only able to offer sessions for children aged 10 and above, but they went so well that we introduced sessions for four to nine-year-olds.

“The sessions have been running for more than two years now, and they’re great, but we still wish more people would take advantage of them.

“We know there are lots of children in the community who have a variety of different needs, and this is something they can all come along and get involved with.

“It would be nice to see more children taking advantage of what we have to offer.

“We have to report quarterly on the difference the sessions are making to children in the area.

“The funding we receive is there to make a difference to the children; to increase their skills, social ability and manage their own behaviour.

“Joshua’s story is a lovely one – he joined around a year or so ago, and is now at a point where he comes to most of our community activities.

“He’s comfortable and it’s almost like a little family here – he’s made lots of friends and has grown the confidence to come to lots of our sessions.

“We get lots of nice stories from people who come here – we’ve had people coming to the sessions and progressing to work at the football club and the foundation.”

TNS Foundation hosts sessions every other Friday, and will be holding Christmas holidays events.

To find out more about the sessions offered by TNS Foundation, visit www.tnsfc.co.uk/foundation or email info@tnsfcfoundation.org.uk