Over a year ago, Manchester United walked out to a packed Old Trafford to play Watford on the 23rd February 2020 and rather than being flanked by the usual United-fanatic boys and girls, the team was greeted by mascots from a different generation. They were all local fans aged between 61 and 87 who were there to raise awareness of loneliness in older people as part of a campaign by Cadbury, Age UK and Manchester United. This match was the start of a year-long programme of activity from Cadbury, bringing to life the brand’s generous ethos by supporting local communities and businesses across the UK through its partnerships with 20 football clubs, large and small.  

Since that day in Manchester, Cadbury has positively impacted more than 90,000 individuals, supported 400 local businesses and raised more than £150,000 through the sale of limited-edition chocolate bars and donating assets for charity auctions – and this is just the start of working together. Cadbury believes there is a glass and a half of generosity and kindness in everyone and wants to inspire this ‘glass & a half’ spirit in others by playing a part in supporting, and bringing together, communities through a shared passion for football.

The communities which follow English Premier League clubs such as Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool down to the local pitches once in the shadow of Grenfell Tower have all benefitted from Cadbury’s partnership.

The partnerships have provided support to small business owners during lockdown, fans who have lost jobs in the pandemic and helped celebrate local heroes. Cadbury has donated sponsorship assets – from shirt sponsorship to pitch side hoardings to local businesses, player appearances, signed merchandise and social media posts for fans – to recognise and celebrate local businesses and community heroes.

Beneficiaries like Londoner Alana Williams attended Chelsea and Cadbury’s free entrepreneurship programme, Edge of the Box, to grow her lockdown start-up theglamsquad.co.uk. Desperately missing having her nails done professionally, she set up the business to provide women with the equipment and knowledge to ‘glam up’ in lockdown – and attributes the success of her new venture to what she describes as the ‘best course’ she’s ever been on. Alana’s new business is one of over 100 start-ups to receive support from Edge of the Box over the past year, with her business now promoted pitch side at Chelsea ladies football ground.

Like many businesses, Coach firm Sharpes of Nottingham were impacted by the pandemic but received a boost from Cadbury. The brand donated Notts County’s shirt sponsorship and ticket allocation for the full 2020/2021 season and enabled the company to carry out all of the club’s official travel, even when fans could not attend live matches.

The Little Wonder Café – sitting just a stone’s throw from the Emirates Stadium usually sees queues out the door for Gunners home games – saw trade fall by 85 per cent in lockdown. Cadbury has worked with Arsenal to support the Islington matchday staple throughout the past year by donating meal vouchers for the café to fans and by replacing Cadbury’s branding on print campaigns and social media posts, offering a reach of 6.2 million, with the café’s branding. Cadbury also use their high-profile ambassadors, such as Ian Wright and Gary Neville, to get behind these initiatives to raise greater awareness.

Nick Rogers, Senior Brand Manager at Cadbury Sponsorships, commented: “We do not see ourselves as a sponsor, we are a partner. Because of this we’ve worked extremely closely with football clubs this past year to ensure Cadbury plays its part in supporting and bringing together communities and local people. With closed stadiums and lockdown restrictions, we have been inspired by how the community spirit has been kept alive, and we want to do our bit by by supporting local programmes that many families and fans rely on. The beautiful game is only beautiful when we are all in it together.”

To mark the nationwide impact of the partnerships across the last year, Cadbury has created a video featuring a spoken word piece by Essex poet and mental health campaigner Hussain Manawer.  The video can be viewed here.

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