Derby County Football Club and Derby County Community Trust have been responding to the needs of the local community throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.

Wholeheartedly endorsed and supported by manager Phillip Cocu, his coaching staff and the players, Stay Safe. Stay Fit. Stay Connected is a wide-ranging programme of help, advice and measures to support communities across Derby.

The project has grown across the last few weeks to encompass a range of activities and respond to changing demands from the city-wide relief network.

Stay Safe includes helping with the city’s major relief efforts, including and providing food donations to the most in need and providing space to set up a food hub at Pride Park Stadium in partnership with the City Council.

The food hub at Pride Park has seen the public make donations made every Monday and Thursday, and has been supplemented with products bought with generous donations from the manager, coaching staff and players.

Another kind donation came from two Academy players, Joseph Connor (U10) and George Cunningham (U11), who raised over £500 by running 15 miles around their village, and spent the funds stocking up on high-demand items for the food bank. Both players were due to represent Derby County in the Utilita Kids Cup and decided to funnel this energy into worthwhile activity.

Food donated has been circulated across the 10 hubs set up by Derby City Council and the Central England Co-op. Over 60 members of staff from Derby County Football Club and Community Trust have volunteered to staff the donation point and deliver food packages.

Staff from the Trust have also supported Derby’s only special primary school, St Giles, to remain open for the children of frontline keyworkers and those with acute needs. Two specialist coaches have been assisting the school staff to ensure safe social distancing and appropriate ratios of staff to children are upheld to meet their requirements.

Derby County Community Trust have handed over use of their office to the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton’s midwifery teams, allowing Continuity of Care appointments to take place with safe social distancing and outpatient hearing screening for babies has also been set up within their classrooms.

Stay Fit entails keeping in good physical and, of course, mental shape with exercises and well-being videos from the club’s players and specialist fitness experts.

Along with the chance to follow workouts from the club staff, fans have also continued to work hard on the Fit Rams programme which culminated in lockdown. Despite the cessation of physical sessions, incredible results have been seen by all who completed the project, with one participant losing in excess of 25kg across the 12 weeks.

Older participants from the club’s Golden Rams movement along with those from the Trust’s Extra Time Hub, Forever Active and Active Recovery sessions have been meeting virtually for weekly coffee mornings and following chair-based exercise circuits designed to reduce falls and encourage physical activity at home, particularly for those shielding due to health conditions.

Mental health provision continues to be provided by both club and Trust, with social media advice from Derby County Women and weekly Team Talk sessions are in place virtually to provide males with a safe space to chat.

Stay Connected with regular light-hearted player interviews, Curtis Davies helping with personal dilemmas, fun activities with Craig Forsyth’s family and a lively, upbeat chat with Shay Given.

Fans are also able to nominate friends and family for virtual ‘hugs’ from our Specialist First Team Coach Twan Scheepers who is well-known for his penchant for hugs when celebrating.

Manager Phillip Cocu said:

“We all want to do our bit during these difficult days and more than ever the club is determined to provide support where it can.

“We’re fully aware of the club’s importance in supporting the local community, as well as having the ability to engage with people, raising hopes and aspirations; and improving the lives of the people of Derbyshire. We want to use that as a force for good.”

Mel Morris CBE, Derby County Executive Chairman, said:

“We are right behind all the efforts and hard work that is going at all levels to help communities in Derby get through the next few weeks or so, and want our supporters to know that we are here for them.

“Sometimes it is practical help in terms of food, sometimes it is about physical and mental wellbeing, and sometimes it’s just about a bit of fun for people to engage, along with their families, with the players and coaches. But whatever’s best for you, let’s do our best for each other.”