EFDN Member Of The Month – February 2024

5 February 2024

EFDN Member Of The Month – February 2024

We’re back with a new EFDN Member of the Month announcement! This February, we are delighted to announce the newest Member of the Month: the Aston Villa Foundation, accompanied by an interview with their Head of Foundation & Community, Guy Rippon.

This initiative aims to showcase the outstanding efforts of our member clubs, leagues or FA’s honouring their dedication to using football for positive change in their communities. Each month, we select a deserving member organisation based on its leadership, innovation, and impact on social responsibility. The chosen member gains exclusive visibility across our network and beyond, allowing their inspiring work to be recognised and celebrated.

To celebrate Aston Villa Foundation’s nomination, Guy Rippon accepted our invitation for an interview, enabling us to discover the remarkable experiences as well as his personal stories and initiatives that have led to the club being selected as the EFDN Member of the Month.

A short introduction to Guy Rippon

My name is Guy Rippon and I am Head of Foundation at Aston Villa, having joined the organisation in October 2016. Previously I was a director at Coventry City’s community charity for five years and held regional management roles for both the Football League Trust and the Football Foundation dating back to 2008. Prior to my involvement in the football industry, I worked in local government working on and overseeing sport for good projects for young people in inner-city areas in the early 2000s for several years, before moving into senior sport and leisure management roles in local government.

What makes you smile in your role? 

I love watching the team at the Aston Villa Foundation in action. Lots of our staff have been with the organisation for a long time and it’s great to see them developing as people and as employees.

There’s nothing better than a busy, vibrant office where the staff are being creative, innovative and collaborating in planning things that are going to have an impact and help people less fortunate than ourselves

What inspired you to work in the CSR/ESG field and what made you interested in making a difference in the football industry specifically? 

I have been working in community sport and community development now for nearly 25 years, so it is all I have really known in my professional career. It came about as I had an interest in sport and in the early 2000’s in England there was lots of government investment into community ‘sport for good’ initiatives. I saw an opportunity to combine my interest in sport with supporting young people. In recent years CSR and ESG has become far more prevalent and wide-reaching, so I feel very lucky to have been involved in this industry as it has matured and developed. Football has always been my first love in sport and the chance to combine a passion for helping people and communities through professional football really is the ideal combination for me.

What core values guide your foundation’s work, and how do you ensure your initiatives have a lasting impact? 

We do have some values that we live by – excellence, innovation and unity. These are guiding principles across our work. Our mission statement is ‘Working together to enrich lives’ which I think captures the essence of the organisation simply. As a staff team we want unity and collaboration, but we are also very proactive in working with key partners and stakeholders, as collectively we can have a greater impact. We are very careful about the projects that we decided to get involved with, and there has to be connectivity across our work. We talk about our ‘Golden Thread’ which is a landscape of opportunities to engage, develop and progress young people to help them on their life journey, whether that is a sporting activity, an intervention, educational or employment programme.

We never choose to do something because there is funding available or because there is pressure from elsewhere to do so. We never run a project in isolation and we consider from the outset how an opportunity adds value to our Golden Thread. This helps us to ensure our programmes and initiatives are focussed and therefore give them the greatest chance of having a lasting impact.

What’s your favourite project? 

I love creativity and innovation and we do encourage staff to try to think differently, but I couldn’t possibly pick one project. We have an absolutely brilliant team of staff that come from a multitude of professions and backgrounds. They are all so committed to the cause and to helping others that it wouldn’t be fair to pick one.

Can you share a memorable story that showcases the positive impact of your foundation’s work? 

Again, there are so many stories and case studies that highlight the impact of our work, it is really difficult to pick just one. We do have an ever-increasing number of people who have come through our projects and are now working at the organisation. I get a tremendous sense of pride when I see those who have come up through the programmes in the office and out delivering – seeing how committed they are, how proud they are themselves, and how much they get from helping others.  That for me, is what it’s all about.

Projects

The Pars Foundation Programmes

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SC Heerenveen Foundation Programmes

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