Wigan Athletic: Using the power of teamwork to help the vulnerable

Whether it’s delivering PPE to 13 care homes, over 150 food packages to vulnerable people or making food drops to distribution centres, Wigan Athletic Community Trust have become a key part of their community’s response to COVID-19. However, Ian Gaskell, who has been coordinating Latic’s COVID 19 response, is keen to stress that the Community Trust’s work is part of a much wider team effort.

Gaskell says: “There are a lot of local organisations involved in the effort. What we decided when the enormity of the situation became clear is that we need to use our resources in the best way possible and that obviously means being part of a combined effort.” 

The Community Trust works with a wide variety of partners on a weekly basis so, as Gaskell explains, finding out where they could help most effectively happened very quickly:

“We made lots of phone calls to our partners in particular Wigan Council, who are leading the response locally. However, we also spoke to foodbanks and homeless charities to see what they were doing and how we can best help them. 

“As a result we are filling lots of gaps; things like picking up PPE from the council and delivering it to local care homes, or working with an armed forces charity to deliver food packages to vulnerable people.”    

The other area where the Community Trust work is proving invaluable is their understanding and unique connection to the community.

Tom Flower, Wigan Athletic’s Head of Community, says: “We are a club, like many others around the country, which is right in the heart of our community. We engaged directly with close to 15,000 people last year. The nature of our work means most of these fall into the category of vulnerable.  Each of the people had average contact time of 24 hours, so we have an understanding of their needs.”

The Club and the Community Trust have been busy calling their supporters and participants to check on their wellbeing.

Gaskell describes how their knowledge of their participants has helped them prioritise the most vulnerable: “One of the first calls we made was to a gentleman on one of our programmes who we recognised as the kind of guy that would not want to ask for help, but we know he has a responsibility for caring for his grandchildren and the phone call quickly identified that he was struggling to put food on the table. We were able to make an emergency referral on his behalf and within 24 hours he’d received a food delivery.”    

Latics have so far made 245 calls to the fans and participants. Gaskell explains how the calls help identify who might need help.

“We are calling them for a chat,” he adds. “The relationship we have with them allows this to be friendly and informal. However, we steer the conversation with a number questions and every caller has a sheet with the ‘tell-tale signs’ that might indicate someone might be having problems be that mental health, financial issues or being having no-one to get their shopping.  We log every call and flag up who needs a call back or referring to one of our partners for further help.” 

“Our players have also been involved in the effort, Samy Morsy, Chey Dunkley, Kieffer Moore and Joe Gelhardt have also been sending personal video messages wishing young supporters a happy birthday. The manager also sent a birthday message via twitter to a supporter celebrating their 21st birthday. He has also been phoning supporters and sharing the hand washing and staying at home messages.”

FIT FANS online campaign launches to get football fans active

The EFL and EFL Trust have today launched an online FIT FANS campaign to provide a safe way for fans to get active in the safety of their homes.

In support of Sport England’s ‘Stay in Work Out’ campaign, the programme will ensure fans have a safe way to start and maintain exercise safely, during this current period.

According to new research released by Sport England, over 65% of people believe that exercise is helping them with their mental health, making an active lifestyle more important than ever for EFL fans and the nation.

Over the next 12 weeks we will feature sessions developed by two fitness coaches, Scott Copeland and Steph Thompson from the Club Community Organisation (CCO) network and will be released twice a week for fans to follow and get involved.

The sessions will introduce the concepts of safe warm up and cool down, increasing daily step counts and activity levels gradually, before moving onto sessions including aerobic strength and training. The exercises will vary and be fun to really give fans the chance to keep moving and see improvements in their fitness.

The sessions will be released each week on Wednesday at 5pm and Saturday at 11am on the EFL and EFL Trust YouTube channels, and will be available for fans to watch at their own leisure within the safety of their own homes.

Stay home, save lives and join the FIT FANS movement as we find new ways to keep moving in around our homes.

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MFC Foundation aims to inspire confidence and hope in young people and adults who need support

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MFC Foundation are one of many EFL Club Community Organisations working tirelessly to ensure they maintain a positive impact in their local community despite the difficult situation we are currently facing.

Helena Bowman, Head of the Foundation based at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium, says the need to engage with the community has never been greater. While using the power of the club badge and their resources to reach out brings everyone together.

“Never has it been so important that we are here to support our community. As a charity, working in the heart of the Teesside community, MFC Foundation aims to inspire confidence and hope in young people and adults who need our support.

“I’m extremely proud of our staff who not only have adapted their programmes to provide online resources and tools to support learning from home, but are also working directly in the community assisting those who need us most.

“With the elderly and most vulnerable isolated, there is a worry they will struggle to get hold of essential food items and there are many requiring help. MFC Foundation are doing all they can to ensure no-one in the community goes hungry during this pandemic.”

As well as donating £1,000 worth of food to a Middlesbrough food bank, the Foundation are also offering practical help, ensuring food is getting delivered. There are 40 elderly residents who rely on Redcar and Cleveland food bank who would usually visit once a week to collect their food. MFC Foundation have stepped in to deliver this to them. In addition, they are also working with the local council to help elderly residents with their shopping who can’t get an online delivery slot.

It is not just the elderly and vulnerable who are at risk of going hungry during these unprecedented times. Many families across the community are supported by free school meals during term time and with schools being closed, this could become problematic to parents, particularly those whose income is affected.

Just recently, the players of Middlesbrough Football Club clubbed together to buy 1,000 food parcels, ones distributed by club and Foundation staff, plus volunteers.

MFC Foundation are supporting families in East Cleveland by distributing free school meals to 75 households, 3 times per week. Staff have also raised the spirits of these local families by dressing up as superhero characters to make the deliveries.

Helena added: “From delivering free school meals across East Cleveland to supporting the NHS with deliveries and shopping for the vulnerable and elderly, we have re-focussed our efforts to support where we can, whilst following government guidelines of social distancing.”

With most schools closed, many youngsters are missing out on vital education and so MFC Foundation have developed a ‘Virtual Classroom’ that has a plethora of resources for young people and adults to take part in.

Meeting daily challenges head on, MFC Foundation are doing all they can to keep participants of their projects engaged. They are currently working with a quarter-finalist from MasterChef who is cooking and developing food parcels including Sunday lunches which are being delivered to participants of their ‘Team Talk’ and ‘Kitchen Therapy’ programmes.

Just recently, an online collaboration with the Head Chef of Middlesbrough Football Club, Howard Archer, brought recipe ideas to a new audience. This is a weekly engagement and one that has proved very popular.

Another initiative MFC Foundation are working hard to continue is their FITBORO programme, a project designed to help and support participants lose weight and lead healthier lifestyles. Staying fit and healthy now is as important as ever and so the program has been adapted so that exercise sessions have been delivered through Zoom and WhatsApp.

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Every Player Counts is a disability programme aiming to get participants playing regular football. Whilst this is not currently possible, MFC Foundation have been working hard to get resources and activity plans out to their participants to keep them active and happy.

There is also a recognition that spirits in the community might be a bit low right now, so the Foundation are using their social media channels to release a Midday Message in the hope of lifting spirits in a variety of ways.  

“Every avenue is being explored, every resource used and we’re helping where we can and it is safe to do,” concluded Helena, Head of a Foundation who are meeting challenges and helping others adapt to the most testing, challenging of times most of us have ever known.

Cambridge United – Here for U’s

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As the reality of the impact on their community became clearer, under the banner of the Club’s ‘Here for U’s’ campaign, Cambridge United’s Community Trust have been working tirelessly to provide practical, emotional and physical support to their area.

Their response takes into consideration the variety of people and their needs in the local community and aims to provide exactly what their community needs to get them through this difficult time…

Sam Gomarsall, Community Trust Manager, explains:

“Here for U’s is all about providing the people who need it with practical, emotional and physical support. These are unprecedented times and the club wants to do everything it can to play its part in helping our community through this. Naturally, we’re having to adapt our approach to community work of course, but we’re as committed as ever to being there for our local community when they need us the most.”

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Amongst the many strands of work under the Here For U’s project, Cambridge United Community Trust have teamed up with the Cambridge City Council’s Food Poverty Alliance, to ensure that vulnerable children in the area will continue to get the meals they need during the holiday period. This is not an unusual practice for the Community Trust, as many children and families attend the stadium in school holidays as they are supported with activities and meals. However, with the current situation preventing their ability to do so, an alternative solution had to be found.

Cambridge United’s club catering manager has volunteered to work with the Trust to ensure meals are prepared and the team then distribute them to the relevant homes. By the end of this week, a total of over 375 two-course meals will have been provided in the local area. Alongside the meals, activity packs have been provided to support the learning of young people, for whom structure and having something to do in the day will be so important.

Alongside this brilliant approach to ensuring the continuation of a normal provision for the Trust, is the opening of a Community Careline. The Careline gives those over 70 and those self-isolating the chance to have a friendly chat, make the team aware that they need food or wellbeing support and also give the Trust the chance to signpost those most vulnerable to other support groups in conjunction with the local authorities such as Mutual Aid.

Another innovation has seen Cambridge United’s EFL Community Project of the Year (League Two) online to support school children with their mental health. Showing once again their ability to adapt, the Trust have developed and provided online resources for the project to schools in their area so they can be sent out to school children to complete their learning in this vital area of wellbeing.

The club and Trust have also been encouraging their fans and participants to share their favourite football memories and next to launch is an online version of their project ‘Active Science’ in conjunction with Astra Zeneca.

The Trust’s strong focus on online education opportunities is no coincidence. 

Sam explains: “There is a real risk that this period will widen the educational inequality gap in our communities and across the UK. We want our community to know that we are with them throughout this difficult time and will continue to build and adapt our approach to support them with their most important needs.”

“Our fans are there for us week after week, now it’s our turn to be there for them.”

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“It’s what we do, we are set up to serve our Community,” says Joe Goude, Stevenage FC Foundation’s Chief Executive. However, it’s a statement that makes light of how, in a matter of hours, the charity attached to Stevenage FC went from serving the community in its usual way, to being a key part of the response to the COVID 19. 

Goude says: “The social distancing, ‘stay at home’ rules, obviously meant that overnight our education programmes, school provision, health and wellbeing and inclusion programmes could no longer operate in their normal way. However, Phil Wallace the Club Chairman, was on the phone straight away, he recognised that our community would need us more than ever in the coming weeks and he tasked us with helping them through the difficult times ahead. ”

The Club and the Foundation moved quickly and by Monday they had four initiatives up and running:  Community Careline, a phone line for vulnerable members of the community; Community Kitchen, a food delivery service; an initiative to supporting local food banks and a community errand running service, such as collecting and delivering prescriptions. 

Goude explains how they could move so quickly: “We already had connections with the local foodbank so it was matter of getting in touch to see what we could do.

“As we are already working with many vulnerable members of society and have partnerships in place with many local organisations, providing a Community Care phone line seemed like the logical way for us to stay in touch and link people with the organisations that can help them.”

Even the food delivery service, which would seem to be a long way from a Community Foundation’s normal operation, was set up overnight.

Goude continues: “We already have a long running initiative called ‘Community Kitchen’ where we teach people with young families how to cook healthy meals. We immediately adapted this provision into a food delivery service. We now make 100 sandwiches each day and deliver them to vulnerable people in the community.” 

The deliveries have proved a lifeline for many vulnerable people. Goude talks about one case in particular: “The chairman got an email for a lady in Reading, thanking us for what we are doing. Her elderly mother lives in Stevenage and she’s been unable to get a supermarket to deliver any provisions until April. She said the sandwiches that we deliver were ensuring she had food to eat and that we were ‘keeping her mum alive’.  Naturally, we made a delivery of basic provision to her mum the next day to ensure she had enough to get by.”   

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If the overnight transformation of the Foundations activity was not impressive enough, things got even busier when the BBC covered Stevenage’s activity.

Goude says: “It made more people aware of the services and there was a step up in the levels of activity.

“Calls to the Community Careline increased and we started make more deliveries. We were also put in touch to Lister Hospital whose frontline staff were struggling to find to time eat properly.

“We now make a daily delivery of sandwiches to the hospital, so at least their hard-worked staff can get something to eat.”

The public have got behind Stevenage’s efforts and the Foundation started a fundraising page to ensure they could continue the hospital deliveries.

Goude adds: “The target was £6,000 and within a matter of days we had £7,500, so we can continue this in the foreseeable future.

“The deliveries to the vulnerable can also continue, for as long as they need to, because the players have stuck their hands in their pocket to fund these with the money that would have paid for their food at the training ground.” 

Despite being busier than ever, Goude reiterates it was only what the Foundation was set up to do, he adds: “There are a lot of people involved in this effort and a lot of partnerships in place. We’re not the experts, we’ll just fill the gaps where we can. We are working closely with the local authority. We want to be doing the right thing and not getting in the way.

“I say quite honestly to the local authority just let us know if there’s something you want us do and conversely if there’s something we are doing that others can do better.

“For example, the aim of the Community Careline is to refer people to where they can get the right help.

“We’re not a counselling service or looking to provide all the answers we are just there if people want to chat – some people are just more comfortable talking to a Football Club. However, if they need further help we know where to refer them.”   

Goude concludes: “Our Chairman said it best, our fans are there for us week after week, now it’s our turn to be there for them.”

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Blackpool’s incredible community work goes on

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The past few weeks have brought new challenges for everyone, since the coronavirus pandemic hit, but for Club Community Organisations (CCOs) it poses a significant question…

How can they continue their work which serves some of the most vulnerable members of society at a time of great uncertainty for their own organisation?

Ash Hackett, who is Chief Executive at Blackpool FC Community Trust, explains.

“The vast majority of our funding partners have been fantastic and told us to use the funding however we need to in order to continue to support our community. Yet we still have to account for a loss of income from activities where people pay to turn up, such as holiday clubs. However, we have strong governance and reserve funds in place to help us through this very difficult period if it becomes necessary.”

Hackett says that even during these uncertain times for the organisation, it’s still the people in the communities they serve that remain their number one priority.

He adds: “We thought about whether the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is appropriate for us. However the most important point for us is ensuring we have enough staff to continue to support our community.”

CCOs across the country have been looking at innovative ways of how they can continue delivering their existing programmes, as well as finding new ways to serve their community.

Hackett explains what they’ve been doing at Blackpool: “My team have been absolutely amazing in doing this. Every staff member has continued to work from home, developing a host of ways to stay in contact with our participants and partner organisations.

“Our education and employability teams have developed virtual classrooms to continue to educate our students and maintain some regularity for them. This means our BTEC Sports College Students, Degree Students and Traineeship participants continue to turn up for classes each day and complete their normal work just from home.

“Some don’t have laptops, so we have sent them home with ours and some don’t have Wi-Fi in their homes so we are sending paper based assignments for them to complete and we are calling them to talk through the subjects, whilst we investigate if we can get them online in their houses.

“Our school delivery teams have continued to support educational establishments that are open for key workers and are short staffed, by going in and being an extra body to deliver some PE and other fun activities. Our secondary schools team have been putting challenges and ideas together to support teenagers’ resilience and mental wellbeing. “

The members of the CCO team not involved in this delivery have been hard at work collating schemes of work, creating and undertaking challenges and thinking of games for schools and families to follow in isolation.

Hackett adds: “We have competitions coming up over the next few weeks including our #BlackpoolRhyme competition, running throughout April, for everyone to tell us what they love about Blackpool in the form of a poem.”

CCOs work with some of the most vulnerable members of the community and ensuring that they are not affected by the current situation is a key priority, as Hackett outlines.

“We have set up call centres for participants to engage with us, if they need a chat, some help or information about other organisations they may need to talk to,” he says.

“We are also in regular contact with our more socially isolated participants, to see if they need any help or support. It’s really important we consider everybody’s mental health during this period and this is one way we can help with this.”

Alongside many other CCOs during this difficult time, Blackpool FC Community Trust has also received a host of calls for additional help that are outside their normal operations. One of those being the call from Blackpool Council to set up a community hub.

“We will host one of twelve hubs that will distribute food parcels to the most vulnerable residents that are isolated for 12 weeks. Our team will coordinate the Bloomfield Ward and deliver the parcels to people’s doorsteps.”

FIT ROBINS: John’s story

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John Davey had suffered from high blood pressure for a number of years and was generally unfit and therefore made the decision to make a change and signed up to the first 12-week programme of the Foundation’s FIT ROBINS project and he has not looked back since.

Bristol City Robins Foundation’s FIT ROBINS initiative is a free 12-week health and wellbeing programme which combines both classroom-based advice and support sessions with active fitness sessions to help participants lose weight and lead healthier lives.

As the weeks passed, and John put into practice the healthy living plans suggested at the sessions, he began to witness improvements in his blood pressure and general levels of fitness.

By the end of the 12-week programme, John’s blood pressure had dropped to a healthy level and his general fitness levels had improved significantly. In addition to this, he also lost nearly 10% of his starting weight.

John told the Foundation: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the FIT ROBINS programme and have been surprised by just how much weight I have lost – I have even had to go a size down in trousers!

“I had never really bothered to look at my weight and have been the same for a number of years but being part of a group who are all working towards the same goal certainly made this process easier and rewarding.”

Lead coach of the initiative, Lee Gillett commented: “John was a proactive member of the programme and contributed in all of the sessions sharing his stories and offering support to fellow participants.

I feel that the supportive group environment really helped to motivate John and enabled him to achieve his goals.”

To find out more about FIT FANS visit: https://www.efltrust.com/fitfans/

Championship Clubs partner with ‘His Church’ to distribute food packages to their communities

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Hull City’s Tigers Trust and Leeds United Football Club and their Club Community Organisation have linked-up with ‘His Church’ (HIS) as part of an initiative to support NHS workers and vulnerable people who have been heavily impacted by COVID-19.

The initiative is known as ‘In It Together’ and will not only help to tackle the shortage that has been seen in food and supplies in the area, but will also create hampers to be given out to NHS staff who are working on the frontline every day to protect people suffering in our communities.

The launch sees lorryloads of deliveries to both Hull City and Leeds United football clubs, who will help distribute it to hard-pressed NHS staff in their communities. From Hull City’s ground, the football club will help to transfer the food to Hull Royal Infirmary where it will be distributed to NHS staff at the infirmary and Castle Hill.

At Leeds United, the first lorryload of supplies arrived at the stadium yesterday afternoon, with coaches and staff on hand to sort the parcels into several vehicles ready for distribution. The food packages where then delivered, through a contact-free method in line with government guidelines, to local hospitals and the South and East ‘Early Help Hubs’ that are working with other foodbanks and vulnerable families during this period.

HIS is a charity that has been providing help to foodbanks across the country for the past 13 years and due to the coronavirus outbreak, the organisation has had to increase the amount of stock it supplies fourfold, with demand at an all-time high.

Their warehouse, which is based in Lincolnshire, is 50,000 square foot and stocked with freezers, fridges and shelving to store product. Before the crisis they were distributing just over 50,000 meals a week across the UK and in response to the overwhelming demand they are now receiving, they are set to distribute around 200,000 meals a week through a network of over 15,000 charities and organisations, including via both of the Championship sides. 

Senior Coordinator for His Church Richard Humphrey, said: “We have never known demand like it. We have staff who are living in lock-down at our warehouse to continue getting food out to people who need it at this desperate time.

“We are simultaneously sourcing new donations to maintain our supply levels. With COVID-19, we really all are ‘In It Together’ and it is only by working together that we will triumph over the virus and the hardship it creates.”

Michael Kinsey, Operations Executive at the Leeds United Foundation, added: “Leeds City Council have set-up a really well coordinated operation to support those who are in need throughout the city and we know it is important to play our part in helping to support vulnerable people and families who have been heavily impacted by COVID-19.

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“We have a longstanding relationship with His Church and the operation they run is fantastic. The amount of people they are able to support is outstanding and we want to ensure that this initiative is going to help people in the long term. It won’t just be food packages, but we will look at supplying emergency care parcels as well to help with other essential items such as medicine, toilet roll, nappies, washing powder and so much more.

“By working together, we are able to help so many more people who really need it.”

Head of Programmes at Hull City’s Tigers Trust, Richard Dexter said: “As a local Charity we are delighted to continue to support our local communities and importantly the NHS through these unprecedented times, through our on-going partnership with His Church. The opportunity to provide fresh food for NHS workers who continue to work tirelessly is critical to us and the people we work with, and the very least we can do as a means of showing our gratitude to them. During these difficult times we are proud to be able to do this with the on-going support of our funders the Premier League Community Foundation and EFL Trust together with the support of our Club and Trustees.”

Connor: “I have autism, but I don’t let it stop me”

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EFL Trust NCS Graduate Connor Burleigh explains how having autism has helped him do things he didn’t think were possible and how much of a positive impact the NCS programme has had on his confidence…

I struggled quite a bit with my autism in Primary school. It might have been because I came from a small community and felt a bit like the odd one out. But I also struggled a lot more with changes to routines than I do now, so the experience of education was quite challenging in those years. This caused me to lag behind, and I went into secondary school not very confident and with really poor reading skills due to lack of engagement in classes. 

But, in truth, secondary school was a new start for me personally. There was a much better support base in place which allowed me to get caught up with my lessons. And, by the end of Year 7 I was a member of the schools eco council and had completed the school’s reading scheme ahead of schedule. The increased amount of people helped too as there were more students who also had autism, and really were in the same boat as me, so it was easy to connect with them.

For me, my autism has always affected how I talk to crowds. I used to struggle a lot, so getting involved in social action has really helped. The Doncaster Youth Council has proper support and training in place that allows me to improve my public speaking skills. It started with me speaking more regularly at youth council meetings. I remember the first one, I just sat at the back of the room not speaking to anyone for the entire meeting! 

But, over time I started speaking up, and even though getting involved was out of my comfort zone, it really helped build my confidence. Being involved in social action projects allows me to be part of something bigger than myself and make a difference in my community. I think those things also give me the motivation to continue to speak to new people and find more public speaking opportunities.

NCS was a great experience as it really allowed me to get out of my comfort zone in a controlled environment. The challenge week helped me learn new skills, and the social action week meant I could give back to my local community. It was also the first time I had stayed away from my parents for a significant amount of time and the experience really changed my life. 

Before going on NCS I was quite unsure if I wanted to go to university. This experience of living away from home really gave me the confidence to apply and I now have a conditional offer from the University of St Andrews! 

After NCS, I successfully applied for the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Youth Board run by the EFL Trust. This led to me taking on another new challenge: using public transport. I had never been on a train alone before so this was quite a shock, with the business of the train stations. Luckily my fellow board members and the staff were really supportive. Since then I’m much more comfortable using public transport on my own, even applying and becoming an #iwill ambassador, and travelling around the country in this role. 

Autism is a wide spectrum and it affects no two people the same way. But, the advice I can give, and wished other people had told me when I was younger, is to try and get involved in as many opportunities as you can. Autism doesn’t define me, it doesn’t define you, and we shouldn’t let it affect our futures.

 #AutismAwarenessWeek

All Rover the community: Blackburn demonstrating the power of football

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Blackburn Rovers Community Trust’s Events and Fundraising Officer, Jess Clegg, says that although it is a challenging time for everyone, she is proud of the work that is being done in communities. 

After having to cancel their sleep-out event this weekend due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Trust have ensured that the Blackburn Foodbank has still been able to carry out its duties, despite having to close its doors to the general public. 

She said: “One of the main things we have been doing is working with the Blackburn Foodbank; we had a sleep-out event planned for this weekend and the proceeds from that would have gone to them, but with the current situation we have had to postpone that event. 

“One of my first thoughts when the coronavirus became more prevalent was ‘how would the Foodbank cope with what is going on?’, so I got in touch with them and they really welcomed our support. We went in and packed the bags, trying to get ahead of the game a bit so they were ready to give out parcels straight away. 

“Last week they had to close their doors to the general public, so we came up with a bit of a plan to do a delivery service. We had two minibuses from the Community Trust go out and deliver all the food parcels to the referrals that were coming in.”

With the Government’s advice ringing firmly in Jess’ ears, she has been extra careful when out and about, making sure that her team have the correct equipment that they need to carry out their tasks, such as hand sanitiser.

She added: “We have been doing a lot and making sure that we are sticking to the guidelines; obviously using the hand sanitisers, spreading ourselves in a decent space around the minibus and, until we get told any different, we are going to continue what we are doing. 

“We have such a huge responsibility, really, because there is such a huge service in Blackburn and, without our support, I don’t think the Foodbank would have been able to get the packages out to those people who really rely on them. 

“Our support has not stopped there, though, as we have offered help to anyone of our participants that might need any help getting out and about, mainly to get them some essentials like shopping and toiletries, so it has been really full-on for us over the past couple of weeks. 

It was confirmed very early on that vulnerable adults over a certain age would have to stay at home to protect themselves from the virus, meaning that some of the Rovers Community Trust schemes would have to be cancelled, but the participants would not be forgotten, with staff members from the Trust getting on the phone to make sure they know that they were not alone. 

Clegg said: “Some of our sessions where we have older participants have unfortunately had to be cancelled, such as line dancing and health walks, so you’re looking at 60-plus. With that age group told not to come out of their houses, it has made things quite difficult for us in that respect. 

“But we have battled on, like they have really – the staff that would tend to be on those sessions have been on the phone, calling them up, just to see how they are getting on, asking them if they need anything or if we could help them with the odd jobs here and there. 

“It’s just to be a friendly voice on the phone, really, because we have built up a really friendly relationship with these people. That phone call from our staff could be the only one they receive this week, or in two weeks’ time, because they haven’t really got anyone around this area.”