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Football comes together in the face of COVID-19 – Part II

In the face of pressures on local communities brought on by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with people unable to work or feed their families, and with vital community lifelines lost, football – both through its clubs and supporter groups – has stepped into the breach. You can read part one of our round-up here.

Despite stay-at-home and social distancing measures being in place for almost two weeks now, football has done its best to help in whatever way it can – some examples of which we’ve collected below. 

If your club or supporter group isn’t on the list, get in touch and we’ll give it a plug.

Premier League

Arsenal: The Arsenal Foundation are donating £100,000 to local charities and organisations supporting those most in need during the COVID-19 crisis – a further £50,000 has already been donated to local community initiatives and the foundation, in partnership with Islington Giving. Arsenal have also offered club cars and volunteer drivers to the NHS.

Burnley: The Lancashire club has continued to support Burnley’s foodbank. Beyond that, they’ve also been offering Turf Moor up to NHS staff. Supporter groups at Burnley tell us the club is also planning an “NHS Day” when the season restarts and it is safe to do so.

Liverpool & Everton: Fans Supporting Foodbanks and its partners from the North Liverpool Foodbank, Everton FC and Liverpool FC, disabled supporters associations, and Liverpool City Council have just opened a Food Hub in a Sports Centre in Anfield.

The Hub, with volunteers from foodbanks, both clubs, taxi drivers, British Gas and the Post Office, has collected £75,000 from a donation box, had 25 pallets of food delivered by a Merseyside food manufacturer and eight pallets of smoothies via a supporters group in Gloucester. Both Everton and Liverpool have staff volunteering at the Hub.

Meanwhile, Spirit of Shankly (SOS) have continued to take donations for their “Help is Here” campaign which is helping to alleviate suffering in the Wirral. SOS chair Joe Blott said: “These are worrying times but these acts of human kindness and compassion amply demonstrate the values of our union and football fans in general.”

Manchester City: Manchester City have handed over the Etihad Stadium to the NHS to use as they see best and free of charge. The club are also personally phoning those supporters aged 65 and over to check up on them and as part of that are working with Age Concern and Sainsbury’s to assist where there is a need.

Tottenham Hotspur: Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust have contacted all members aged 70 and over to check that they’re okay, have a support network and offering assistance if not – as well as offering chats about all things Spurs whenever they get bored. 

The trust has also continued to share public health messaging in newsletters and email communications. They’ve kept in close contact with the club around football and ticketing matters – and put forward the fan perspective on these issues. Spurs fans via the Trust have also been financially supporting “Meals for the NHS“.

Watford: The Hertfordshire club have offered up all of their facilities up to the NHS to use exclusively as they continue to support Watford General Hospital. Through the ticket office, in conjunction with volunteer fans, the club has started a program to help supporters who may need social contact or even just a chat when they are on their own.

Elsewhere, both Brighton and Bournemouth have offered tickets to NHS staff for next season.

Championship

Hull City Supporters’ Trust (HCST) have been fundraising for local charities and community groups. After raising £1,500 in January for MindHEALTH by selling Hull City’s famous 1993-94 shirt, HCST are doing the same again with four new replica shirts. This time raising funds for Help The Aged, Dove House Hospice and Emmaus Hull and East Riding our local homeless support charity.

Nottingham Forest staff have been contacting the club’s most elderly supporters to check on them and offer guidance and support where possibly. The Robin Hood Fund has now surpassed £25,000 in donations and have set a new target for raising £35,000.

Middlesbrough have donated radios for use at North Tees Hospital during the crisis. The Teeside club’s foundation has also donated to the local foodbank and assisted Middlesbrough Council with the delivery of over 52,000 leaflets to homes in in the area which provide advice and guidance on the public health crisis.

League One & Two

In League One, AFC Wimbledon have been engaging in community work, while in League Two Colchester United have been offering logistical support to a range of community organisations. U’s staff and volunteers have been taking part in food collections, food parcel deliveries, lunch deliveries for isolated young people and a food parcel collection service.

Also in League Two, Crewe Alexandra manager Dave Artell, along with several players and other senior figures at the club have agreed to give up some time to have a phone call with those who need it the most. Walsall Supporters Trust also announced that they will be donating £225 to Walsall Outreach who feed the most vulnerable in the  town.

Bradford City Supporters’ Trust have been doing what they can – promoting online donations to local foodbanks and providing information to their members on mental health, exercise resources and much more.

Prior to the seasonal suspension Doncaster Rovers fan group, VSC, had been running the foodbank collection point at the stadium on matchdays, using the collective Fans4foodbanks campaign, donating £988.75. 

Likewise, Blackpool Supporters’ Trust are normally involved with food banks but owing to the stay-at-home measures have donated £500 to Amazing Graze, a Blackpool charity that provides meals and shelter for the homeless. 

On the east coast, Grimsby Town’s Mariners Trust have supported the local foodbank during the season and have handed over excess stock from their bars (mainly crisps and chocolates) together with a donation of £200. The Grimsby Town Sports and Education Trust have been out helping with deliveries to vulnerable people and have also set up a contact group for people who are struggling mentally with isolation

At Scunthorpe United the Iron Trust have been supporting the local foodbank again this season with food and cash collections – in place of physical collections they have been drawing attention to the online giving page that the foodbank has.

Tranmere Rovers have been working on a scheme to ensure that vulnerable people who are self-isolating could be supported by daily phone calls and assistance with food deliveries. Teaming up with the charity HelpLink they have just under 250 volunteers and more than 800 vulnerable people requiring assistance. They have also been delivering food parcels to the local community.

Non-League

Clapton Community FC have been doing their bit by creating a hardship fund which offers financial support for people struggling with bills, buying food and other necessities. At Step Three, volunteers from Gosport Borough FC have been helping to deliver food parcels alongside a local supermarket. 

Women’s football

Manchester United women’s fan group the Barmy Army have been hosting online socials at the weekends using Skype to keep people in touch and deal with social isolation. Local rivals Manchester City Women Official Supporters’ Club have been providing their members with quizzes, memorabilia show and tells, activities for kids and much more.

Down in Bristol, the Bristol City women’s supporters club helped get a happy birthday message to one of their members from her favourite player, Sophie Baggaley, while the schools were closed. 

 

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