BEST COVID 19 COMMUNITY RESPONSE – NON-PREMIER LEAGUE
Ashton Gate Stadium – Bristol City FC
We are a unique proposition as the football club is part of a larger sporting group model all owned by the Lansdown family (referred to as Bristol Sport). Steve Lansdown, CBE has often been quoted as saying “We support the community and the community supports us” – never has that been more important than through this crisis. When the pandemic struck, we were able to harness the power of the sporting group to ensure our community response was co-ordinated, strategic and sustainable for the long-term.
This submission will focus on the work that the football club and stadium have done to combat food poverty during the pandemic. It’s also worth noting the enormous work done by our sporting group’s charities (Bristol Sport Foundation, Robins Foundation and Bristol Bears Foundation) to adapt to virtual training sessions, educational learning and contact time with our community to help people of all ages and ability to remain active and healthy.
At the time of submission more than 1000 tonnes of food (the equivalent of 2.3 million meals) has been distributed directly from Ashton Gate Stadium. Our charities have delivered more than 50,000 meals to those most in need in our immediate community.
The 2019/20 season was set up to be an historic one for Brentford Football Club – The Bees bid farewell to their beloved Griffin Park and looked ahead to life at Brentford Community Stadium.
The pandemic put the Club’s celebration plans on hold though and instead they focused their off-field efforts on supporting fans and the local community during this difficult time. Together with Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, Brentford reached out with their #BeeAtHome and #BeeWell campaigns to encourage children and adults to stay active at home and look after their mental wellbeing and delivered pizzas to local families in need of a Christmas treat. They also supported the NHS and South Western Railway with their campaigns on how to stay safe and worked with Directors, players, staff and fans to raise money and increase donations for Hounslow Community FoodBox. The Bees supported their fans by calling to check in on them and found innovative ways to allow them to say their goodbyes to Griffin Park and ‘be there’ for those special last moments even when games were behind closed doors. At their new stadium, new fan engagement ideas continue with Virtual Mascots, Buzz at Your Door and more.
Bristol Rovers FC
Bristol Rovers and our Community Trust united to work hard during this pandemic to attempt to ensure that our community and those in need got through the various challenges that arose due to the pandemic together. From delivering tablets to the elderly and in need to providing food to the most vulnerable, the club has attempted to provide the required support to everyone that needed it.
Derby County FC Community Trust
Derby County Football Club and its Community Trust serve communities across Derbyshire. Elderly With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, every member of staff, from Community Coach to first team manager, was united in a desire to help our communities.
Ideas were collated under the Stay Safe. Stay Fit. Stay Connected. initiative which has been running since April 2020 in order to combat the pandemic’s devastating effects.
Key elements of the project include the running of a food donation hub and supporting the wider food bank network, the development of a virtual activity calendar to keep fans and participants active and a number of projects aimed at keeping communities connected.
Projects have been wide-ranging: supporting isolated, elderly members of the community to access technology, delivering food relief parcels, supporting the council to provide almost 1,000 Christmas meals, upcycling bikes, continuing to support school staff and pupils’ wellbeing and even launching a kit!
The initiative has adapted to bridge city-wide gaps in provision and as a result, individual projects have varied hugely, but have all worked together for the common purpose of keeping fans and participants safe, fit and connected.
Dons Local Action Group with AFC Wimbledon Foundation
Dons Local Action Group (DLAG), part of the AFC Wimbledon Foundation, was started in March 2020 by a small group of long-time AFC Wimbledon fans who strongly felt that as a community club, there was a responsibility to help local people affected by Covid-19.
Since then, an army of over 2,000 registered volunteers has worked tirelessly in the London boroughs of Merton, Wandsworth and Kingston to help people most in need – those falling through the gaps and without access to the basics such as food and education.
In just ten months we have delivered over 140,000 food boxes to individuals, families, food banks, community kitchens and shelters for victims of domestic abuse and the homeless. Our Keep Kids Connected campaign through which we collect, refurbish and distribute donated laptops has ensured that over 1,200 under-privileged children can continue their education from home. We have sourced and delivered more than 175 items of furniture and appliances.
Having worked collaboratively with over 135 aid organisations, charities, schools, local councils, MPs and businesses, we are recognised as a nimble, effective and approachable organisation and have now become a permanent operation tackling food, digital and furniture poverty in the community.
Notts County FC
Notts County made more than 350 phone calls to elderly, vulnerable and key-worker supporters to bring them some cheer in the first lockdown before launching a fundraising campaign for their local Age UK branch. Over the course of the pandemic, the relationship between the club and charity blossomed into an official partnership, which paved the way for the club to raise more vital funds at such a crucial and pressurised time.
The club’s magnificent community spirit has been transferred into their commercial operations this season, too, as they entered into a unique partnership with Cadbury which saw the world-famous chocolate company become the club’s home shirt sponsors before donating the inventory to Notts’ travel partners, Sharpes of Nottingham, whose business had been decimated by the pandemic.
Port Vale Foundation Trust
Port Vale Football Club through the Port Vale Foundation have provided a staggering 300,000 meals since March 2020, supporting those who need it most in their community to have access to weekly food, essential items and support.
The Foundation have provided a wrap around offer of support to its community during the pandemic. In addition to food and essential items, the club have provided loneliness phone calls for the over 70’s, garden gate visits and zoom calls and quizzes.
As the pandemic continued to affect the community the club redoubled its efforts, running a Christmas appeal, which saw an amazing 1000 families supported with toys, gifts and food that they would not have otherwise had. Carol Shanahan, club owner was out with the team on Christmas Day providing a hot Christmas dinner for people and families who would have otherwise gone without.
If ever there was a time for a football club to step up for its community, it is in a global pandemic and Port Vale FC have done this in an unbelievably passionate way that has had a true impact on the lives of people in Stoke-on-Trent.
Rangers Charity Foundation
The Rangers Charity Foundation exists to be a force for good on behalf of the Rangers Family, showing compassion to those in need, tackling inequalities and creating opportunities for people of all ages to change their lives for the better.
For many young people and adults, the Foundation provides a vital link and opportunity to improve their health, wellbeing, alleviate isolation and help them on a pathway towards employment.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we were determined to continue this support and therefore developed #AFoundationFromHome.
We believed that it was vital for us to offer a range of resources to help alleviate isolation, the risk of deterioration in mental health and physical wellbeing and to maintain links with those for whom the Rangers Charity Foundation has been a catalyst for improving their lives.
Our #AFoundationFromHome resources were delivered mainly by just two members of staff and reached thousands of people in need of support right across the UK. All activities were free and included:
– Fun and educational worksheets for children
– Football challenges for young people with disabilities
– Online fitness sessions for adults
– Football Memories videos for older people with dementia
– Key sources of support and advice