Coventry Blaze -Previous winners of the Coventry Telegraph Business Award for Contribution to the Community.
Since moving to Coventry in 2000, the Coventry Blaze have made a great effort to be a big part of the community in Coventry and surrounding areas.
The city has welcomed the Blaze with open arms, and in return, the club has worked hard to not only integrate itself into the community but to actively put something back into the community. The club has brought success and silverware to the city winning, winning 5 major trophies in just the last three years. In addition to help the worldwide perception of Coventry - the Blaze have built a community programme that is not only popular but successful and worthwhile.
To begin with the club wanted to work closely with the local Coventry schools meeting and talking with the children that make up the community in which the Blaze play. The Cash-Back for Schools programme, which is supported by another great city institute Coventry Building Society through their TLC In The Community programme, was set up in 2003. It's a simple scheme designed to allow children to attend hockey games whilst raising money for their school. Players go into school assemblies weekly to talk about hockey, the benefit of continuing with your eductaion (three of our professional players are also studying their MBA at Coventry University full time),team work, dedication and keeping fit. For every ticket the children and parents buy, the team in turn give money back to the school to be used for sports equipment, books anything that benefits the children. In the first year the Coventry Blaze visited over 300 schools. The scheme has now been extended to include scouts, girl guides and other youth groups. The scheme has also become so successful that schools are registering in advance of their school year.
In addition to the Cash-Back for Schools programme, the Blaze have also been involved with many other things such as National Book Week when the players would go to schools and read their favourite stories and hospital visits including a visit to Fennel Day Hospital, part of the Caludon Centre at University Hospital, Walsgrave.
Prior to the 2006-7 season, the Blaze also held an annual "Air The Bear" evening at one of the club's home games where fans were invited to throw soft toys onto the ice following the first Blaze goal of the evening. The toys were collected for the BBC Midlands toy appeal and the remainder were taken into the Children's wards at University Hospital, Walsgrave by members of the hockey team.
Unfortunately due to health & safety reasons it's no longer possible to do our Air The Bear to collect toys in this way. To combat this, The Players Charity was formed in 2006-2007. Now having their 2nd annual golf day, supported by Coventry Building Society's TLC in the Community programme, raising over £1000 each time for the Children's wish list at University Hospital in Walsgrave. Four Blaze players take the presents into the children to personally present them and spend some time with them over the festive period. The Players Charity events are totally operated by the Blaze Players themselves.
In 2006-7 the Blaze worked with West Midlands Police and West Midlands Fire & Rescue to produce a set of player cards with important messages such as "Make sure you test your fire alarm" and "Don't walk home alone" which were given out free to children as collectables over four games.
The Blaze also attach their name to many local worthwhile campaigns an Anti-Domestic Violence, currently running with Slyvain Cloutier & Rumun Ndur championing the cause of reporting Domestic Violence with Coventry Safety Partnership at Coventry City Council. CSP and the Blaze also have put together a clapper banner, given away free to fans at a home game in 2007-8 to promote the cause.
The Blaze have also put their name to the TravelWise campaign at Coventry City Council, encouraging the use of sustainable transport, Blaze players have walked children to school to promote the cause and have also given talks on the subject at local schools within Coventry.
Other campaigns that have featured the Blaze include an Anti-Litter campaign, a recent no-smoking campaign, a dental hygiene campaign and the Christmas blitz on drink driving to name but a few.
In 2007-8 the Blaze are also supporting the work of Coventry Active at Coventry City Council, promoting healthy activity for people of all ages throughout the city.
Following the success of the Cash-Back for Schools programme, in 2007 the Blaze teamed up with Warwickshire County Council to launch their "Healthy School Meals" programme, titled Winter Warmers. The programme is designed to encourage children to not only eat healthily but to look after their bodies and to keep fit. There are two elements to the programme, a healthy eating assembly held by a member of Blaze staff and two players, and the actual serving of the school meal themselves and enjoying the menu by eating with the Children. The message is clear, eat well, keep fit and look after yourself and you can be successful as well. The Blaze involvement in the programme is supported by Coventry Building Society.
The Blaze also run an Adopt a School scheme in conjunction with their "Say No To Drugs" campaign, supported by LuK. The scheme links local organisations with schools in order to provide tickets for the children to attend a Blaze game. These tickets are traditionally given to a school where children may not have had the opportunity to attend a game otherwise. Children, teachers and representatives of the company attend the game all the children are given a free Say No To Drugs t-shirt, courtesy of the Blaze & LuK
2007-2008 sees the addition of another community programme in association with Lloydspharmacy - Blaze fans have the opportunity to have their blood pressure tested as well as being tested for diabetes for FREE. Blaze players will also be attending to get tested alongside their fans.
In 2006-2007 the Blaze worked with BBC Coventry & Warwickshire on the RaW Hits Ice project, running competitions and evening workshops with players to promote reading and writing within adults.
In 2007-2008 the Blaze used pink sticks at one game to raise awareness and money for Breast Cancer Research. The Blaze also run various supporters events throughout the year, which raise money for charity including Ladies Night which raises thousands each year for Cancer Research.
The Blaze also help hundreds of schools, youth groups, charities and organisations to raise money through donations of raffle prizes, and have thus aided in the raising of thousands more pounds for charity.