THE MFC Foundation is hoping to change lives across East Cleveland after opening a new community outreach centre in Loftus.

Middlesbrough captain George Friend officially opened the new centre on Loftus High Street yesterday, with the MFC Foundation, which is the club’s charitable arm, planning to use its new base to coordinate and run sporting and community programmes throughout the East Cleveland region.

The new centre is the MFC Foundation’s third permanent base – it already runs facilities at the Riverside Stadium and Herlingshaw Centre in South Bank – and represents the charity’s biggest push into the wider Cleveland area.

The Loftus facility will offer a series of courses and initiatives, ranging from drop-in days for adults with mental health issues, traineeship programmes for the unemployed and sports clubs for teenagers and young children.

The ‘Boro bus’ will also travel through the towns and villages of East Cleveland, offering health screening programmes, education initiatives and fitness and wellbeing classes.

“We’ve been a charity for 25 years on Teesside, but never really been able to properly branch out to East Cleveland,” said Helena Bowman, head of the MFC Foundation. “We’ve been here sporadically, but never had a permanent base. This new facility provides us with that.

“From our previous work, we know the power of the football club badge, and the way it engages people that might otherwise be much harder to reach. This is our official opening, but we’ve already had a fantastic response from the local community. People have been coming up to us and saying how nice it is that we’ve come here because the area can often be forgotten. We see it as an important part of what we do.”

Friend is a long-term supporter of the MFC Foundation, and agrees it is vital the charity supports people across the whole of Cleveland.

“Every time I get involved with anything to do with the MFC Foundation, the work they do is just superb,” said Friend. “I always knew they reached out to everywhere on Teesside, but to come out here and have such an impact on East Cleveland is great.”