Sunderland AFC fans from around the globe have raised a staggering £212,061 for local charities this season, as part of the Sunderland Together campaign.
Created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sunderland Together saw fans from across the world donate to support frontline community response services in Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham.
The 2020/2021 football season was one like no other, and whilst fans couldn’t be together at the matches, Black Cat supporters from Wearside, County Durham and beyond came together to support their communities during the pandemic. From phone support for those struggling with their mental health through to drive-through foodbank collections, supporters have gone the extra mile this year to support those who need it most.
Over £170,000 alone was raised as part of the virtual Wembley ticket initiative ahead of the Papa John’s Trophy Final in March, which saw the sale of over 11,000 commemorative tickets. Sunderland AFC donated over £21,000 following the sale of 2021/2022 season cards. The money raised has gone to support five local charities, with Sunderland AFC’s official charity the Foundation of Light, Sunderland Foodbank, Salvation Army, Washington Mind and Veterans in Crisis in Sunderland all benefitting.
Jonathan Conlon from Sunderland Foodbank explains that the money is already making a difference to those who need it most in the region,
“So far this year we have helped support nearly 3,000 people across Sunderland – providing everyone with emergency food and toiletry supplies in their period of financial crisis. This incredible donation is timely in light of the ongoing pressures linked to the pandemic so thank you again to everyone involved.”
Working in partnership with the Red and White Army Supporters Trust, Sunderland AFC Branch Liaison Council and SAFC Senior Supporters Association, Sunderland Together was administered by the Foundation of Light and Chief Executive, Lesley Spuhler OBE DL said,
“This is a staggering amount of money to raise and shows just how amazing our supporters are. The money will go towards supporting critical frontline services across the region tackling food poverty, social isolation, unemployment and poor mental health. It is a testament to just what can be achieved when our club, community and supporters work together. A huge, huge thank you to everyone who donated and supported this campaign. Your kindness has made a life-changing difference to thousands of lives across the North East.”
Graham Wharton, Community Manager at The Salvation Army’s Southwick Community Project, said:
“As a proud Sunderland AFC supporter, I’m absolutely delighted that Mackems and people across the country have come together and donated to good causes including The Salvation Army’s work here in Sunderland. Thanks to everyone’s incredible generosity, we will be able to continue our mission, which includes providing food parcels for struggling families, and breakfast and after-school clubs for young people. We are also going to buy a van to transport much needed essential items which will ensure we are able to meet the needs of people right across Sunderland and develop exciting new projects to support our communities.”
As part of the Sunderland Together fundraiser, Washington Mind have been able to purchase a van to support mobile outreach projects in the community. “EJacqui Reeves, Chief Executive of Washington Mind said
Everyone at Washington Mind is totally overwhelmed by the phenomenal amount raised by the Sunderland Together campaign. This will make a huge difference to us and your support helps to further our mission to raise awareness around mental health issues, provide support and training, prevent suicides and save lives. Your support is invaluable to us and our community, thank you again!”
Andrew Hird, Chair of the Red and White Army Supporter Trust said,
“The amount raised for Sunderland Together initiative is phenomenal and shows the generosity of our fantastic fanbase. It’s been a challenging period during the COVID-19 pandemic but the money raised will make a real difference to the communities of Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham.”
Jim Gilling, Chair of the Sunderland AFC Branch Liaison Council said,
“The SAFC Branch Liaison Council want to thank everyone who contributed to this fantastic total. The money raised will be very much appreciated by the charities and we are sure they will put it to good use to assist our local community. We were pleased to take an active role in this initiative and will certainly continue to engage with any future initiatives that benefit our local charities.”