As we reach week 12 in lockdown, the Foundation of Light have taken the opportunity to reflect on how the football club’s official charity responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cross-section of people we work with is unparalleled within our community; we work with those aged 18 months to 80 plus years and offer something for everyone; with programmes impacting on health, behaviour, attitude, skills, knowledge and much more.
After suspending all sporting activities at our Beacon of Light base on March 18th, in line with government guidelines, we followed instructions for non-essential staff to work from home.
Our priority at this time was to ensure we could continue to work with our existing participants and partners as well as supporting the local community.
This is when #FoLFightsBack was born – as the team looked for new ways to engage with people through our programmes and provide support where we could while everyone was told to stay safe at home.
- Tutors developed 15 brand-new free online ‘Isolation to Education’ courses for those who were on furlough or unemployed to learn new skills.
- Over 8,500 engaged with weekly challenges set via YouTube to encourage people to stay active while staying safe at home.
- Staff volunteered at Sunderland Foodbank; working over 240 hours to help deliver food packages across the city.
- 50 kids took part in our first-ever virtual holiday course programme hosted on Zoom
- Elderly members of our community were supported through regular calls and of WhatsApp messages as part of the Extra Time Hub. SAFC director David Jones also reached out to members, personally calling 45 fans.
- 400 youngsters from the Player Development Centre were provided with homework – as a reward they got the chance to have online Q&A sessions with SAFC players
- 25 schools were sent resource packs to help them continue to deliver PE sessions.
- Online FIFA tournaments allowed kids to keep in touch with each other during lockdown.
- Our FIT BLACK CATS programme, in partnership with the EFL Trust, continued to run via a Facebook group and saw each member lose an average of 5kg each.
- ‘Sit and Be Fit’ exercise videos were made available through YouTube to help older people stay active at home.
- Inspired by BBC Children in Need over 1,500 engaged with inclusive activities, posted each day on our Facebook page.
- Our disability dance group were able to stay in touch via weekly Zoom sessions, with different themes each week.
- 50 hours of full-time online education delivered to 114 pupils aged 16-19.
- Delivered our first-ever virtual open evenings via Zoom to showcase our programmes to school leavers.
Written By Kate Smith
12 June 2020