BEST COVID 19 COMMUNITY RESPONSE – PREMIER LEAGUE
Established in 1985, Arsenal in the Community is one of the longest-running football community departments in the UK. In normal circumstances the department provides social, physical and mental support to more than 5,000 people a week in Camden, Islington and Hackney.
The COVID-19 pandemic quickly brought a halt to the usual face-to-face delivery, but Arsenal in the Community adapted quickly to maintain support for the local community.
Working with local councils and community partners, Arsenal in the Community responded at speed and at scale to tackle the urgent issue of food poverty in Camden, Islington and Hackney – eventually surpassing the significant milestone of 500,000 meals delivered.
As a result of this COVID-19 community response, Arsenal in the Community have been invited to join the Islington Food Poverty Network and are now exploring the possibility of setting up local food cooperatives as a sustainable solution.
Designed on a not-for-profit basis, the cooperatives will pool buying power and purchase directly from suppliers to provide the community with food at more affordable prices. The hope is that the cooperatives will become the long-lasting legacy of Arsenal in the Community’s response to COVID-19.
Brighton & Hove Albion FC
The club immediately looked at supporting its fans and local community at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. New and recurring initiatives have been created and delivered throughout the past year and continue to be needed in this latest phase of the pandemic.
During this pandemic, our players and fans raised nearly £400,000 for local charitable Covid-relief causes. Our staff have made more than 6000 calls to elderly and vulnerable supporters. We converted the Amex stadium as testing centre and vaccination training location and the club were at the forefront of government safe return of fans model in the summer.
We are proud that we were the first football club to undertake such an outbound calling campaign and that we far exceed our own original goals in the type and scale of the support we provided.
Our bond with our supporters and the wider community is stronger than ever – we have faced the challenges of this pandemic together.
Both Chelsea Football Club and the Club’s Foundation worked tirelessly to try and alleviate some of the difficulties faced by our communities, particularly vulnerable groups and families who were adversely affected by the Covid pandemic.
With the support of Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich the Club and Foundation worked together to develop a wide-ranging response to alleviate some of the pressures faced by groups and individuals most affected by the pandemic. We adapted our programmes according to the needs of those people and communities.
Within one week of the initial lockdown the first activities were rolled out with face to face delivery replaced by online coaching and education programmes. We launched a series of innovative virtual sessions and established online community groups to remain engaged with participants of all ages. The Foundation also developed new programmes for wider public benefit.
The Covid-19 response has engaged all areas of the Football Club from the owner and board to the sponsors, players, staff and importantly the fans who have shown amazing generosity through their donations to Refuge and other charitable activities. We continue to be committed to supporting our community through this time of difficulty.
Everton FC and Everton in the Community
Launched in March 2020, Blue Family is a coordinated engagement campaign that maintains contact with fans and participants and provides vital support and assistance to some of the most vulnerable, socially isolated and at-risk members of the community during the ongoing pandemic.
The last 10 months has seen the initiative directly support more than 27,750 individuals and families, make more than 25,000 check-in and welfare calls and delivered more than 14,450 emergency food parcels in addition to delivering bespoke online content consumed by millions across the world, aimed at keeping people connected.
Following the return to a full lockdown in early January 2021, the Club and EitC further stepped up the Blue Family efforts with the expansion of activity including increased outbound calls to fans, additional support to deal with an increase in referrals and expanded content output.
This increased support is in addition to the charity’s ongoing support for the participants of its 40+ programmes which continue to operate remotely delivering online education, fitness and coaching sessions, tailored mental health support, regular welfare calls and bespoke wrap-around support to our vulnerable, elderly and/or at-risk participants.
Leicester City FC
When COVID-19’s societal impact became increasingly apparent in March 2020, Leicester City had to quickly adapt to continue to engage with its communities. Such is the Club’s capacity as a pillar of the community, they were required to take a central role in leading these communities through one of the most socially challenging periods in recent memory.
This required a layered, strategic programme of activity designed to engage, inform, involve, and entertain their audiences, while mobilising LCFC supporters’ sense of community to support those sections of the Club’s locale most affected by the pandemic.
Efforts resulted in undisclosed sums being donated to Leicester Hospitals NHS Trust, Leicestershire Partnerships NHS Trust and Age UK Leicestershire and Rutland, and £162,000 donated from supporters to open a new mental health facility in the city.
The Club also sought to engage with charities and community organisations of more modest means, inviting causes of all sizes throughout Leicestershire to apply for financial, logistical and volunteer support through its 2020 Gift of a Wish programme. In doing so, the Club, through its charitable foundation, was able to provide much-needed support to causes whose very existence was threatened, at a time when their communities needed them most.
Manchester City FC
From the beginning of the pandemic, Manchester City recognised the important role it had to play in supporting communities locally and globally, so developed a series of initiatives to respond to immediate need and help communities recover from the pandemic.
As the Premier League restarted, the Club launched Cityzens Giving for Recovery, a year-long programme bringing together all ten City Football Group clubs, staff, fans and players, to make a positive difference – mobilising donations, expertise, facilities, resources, and voice to support recovery-linked projects in each of the ten cities where CFG has clubs.
The programme adopted a multi-phased approach, comprising a global crowd-fund to raise £1m for recovery efforts in ten CFG Club cities, sustainable project delivery across those cities for 12+ months, delivering measurable improvements in mental wellbeing, physical health and educational attainment for thousands of young people, and a new employee volunteer programme, blending digital and physical volunteering to support recovery efforts around the globe.
Manchester United FC and Manchester United Foundation
The objective of our Covid-19 response was to continue to support those we work with on a day-to-day basis, whilst also extending our provision to others in society who have found themselves, through no fault of their own, struggling.
Our plan was to:
– Offer support and resources to the NHS and other organisations involved in the frontline fight.
– Maintain our programmes of support for partner schools, whilst developing new initiatives and funding streams to support schools and their pupils.
– Provide financial and practical assistance to foodbanks locally.
– Extend our support to communities near and far through financial donations, wellbeing initiatives and food delivery.
– Financially support our fans and non-salaried staff through refunds and the ongoing payment of wages respectively.
After months of concentrated effort there is no letup in the fight against Covid-19. John Shiels, chief executive of Manchester United Foundation reflected: “When you’re a leading organisation in a city and it gets to this, you need to stand and be counted. I’m so proud that the club and Foundation have stood up and we’ve gone out to communities, looked after our own staff, looked after our partners and looked after our people.”
Tottenham Hotspur FC
Tottenham Hotspur has always taken pride in its role within the community – never was that going to be more important than when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Having offered use of its facilities to the NHS, April saw the transformation of its stadium to assist North Middlesex University Hospital in its fight against COVID-19. The stadium became one of the first in the country to be used to conduct drive-through COVID-19 testing and swabbing, utilising a huge basement car park. The transferral of the hospital’s Women’s Outpatient Services, meanwhile, was designed to free up much-needed capacity at the hospital itself to treat patients facing COVID symptoms whilst supporting the redirection of pregnant women away from the hospital during the pandemic. Between April and July, more than 42,000 Women’s Outpatient Services appointments were delivered at the stadium – accommodated even after football restarted in June. The Club has once again offered its stadium as a potential hub for the COVID-19 vaccination programme. In addition, the Club also established a food distribution hub for local people, helped produce face shields for the frontline and stayed connected to its fans via a range of activities.
On 28th February, Wolves Foundation launched Feed Our Pack, an initial £500,000 project that aims to help reduce the effects of food poverty and support residents of Wolverhampton who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic The project, which will run for an initial three-years, has been made possible by a £250,000 grant from the Premier League PFA Community Fund and a generous personal donation of £250,000 from Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito Santo Feed Our Pack will be supporting selected foodbanks in the city, with the aim of increasing the volume of food being distributed to meet increased demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, along with combatting ‘holiday hunger’ by providing a programme of food, sport and education to local children during school holidays Like most cities, Wolverhampton has suffered as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic People have suffered both physically from the virus itself, mentally from losing loved ones or issues surrounding lockdown and isolation and economically, from the pandemic’s effects on the normal operations of society.