Sunderland AFC and its official charity, Foundation of Light, have come together to join other football clubs to mark the fifth EFL Day of Action.
All 72 clubs from the three EFL divisions have united to demonstrate the impact that football makes in positively changing people’s lives.
Black Cats Lynden Gooch, Tom Flanagan and Aiden O’Brien showed their support by taking part in activities hosted by the Foundation of Light.
Midfielder Gooch surprised youngsters on a football holiday course when he dropped in via Zoom for chat. The group were keen to hear more about his match-winning goal in the Papa John’s Trophy Final at Wembley – and who was the best dancer in the dressing room!
Tom Flanagan and Aiden O’Brien joined some of the Foundation’s older participants, following their weekly online seated exercise class as part of the EFL’s Extra Time Hub programme.
After the session, Northern Irish international Flanagan said: “I met the members of the Extra Time Hub at the Beacon of Light last year, so it was nice to have the chance to catch up with them again and see how they’ve been doing.
To know that the Foundation offer this service to help keep everyone connected is great; even before the pandemic and lockdown, but even more so during what we’ve all been through. Knowing supporters have been able to have someone to talk to, to keep in touch and have regular social interaction makes a big difference to someone’s day
Over the last year, SAFC’s official charity has held more than 10,000 sessions across a portfolio of 40 programmes, working with over 320 families, 100 schools and supported 2,200 people with a registered disability.
The Foundation has played a critical role in the region’s COVID-19 response including:
- Supporting over 100 furloughed or newly unemployed people through 15 new, free and specifically designed employability programmes
- Engaged over 8,000 primary school programmes in online PE and PHSE sessions during lockdown
- Supported over 1,500 isolated older people with care packages, telephone befriending, activity packs and online activity sessions
- Over 100 members of staff volunteered to support the Sunderland Foodbank and Salvation Army, delivering food parcels and packages to those in need
As part of EFL Day of Action, Sunderland AFC and the Foundation of Light have been recognised as the North East and Yorkshire Your Move EFL Community Club of the Year, for the work done over the last 12 months as part of the COVID-19 response.
Foundation of Light Managing Director, Jamie Wright said: “The EFL Day of Action is a great opportunity for football clubs and their community trusts to come together and showcase the fantastic work that is taking place across the country.
“We work across Sunderland, South Tyneside and Durham to tackle some of society’s biggest challenges including obesity, anti-social behaviour and unemployment. We are incredibly proud of the work we do and the impact we have in supporting the region to improve their lives. This year, more than ever before, our work and our club have mattered to our communities; our staff have gone above and beyond to support those most in need during a very challenging time. A huge thank you to them and to our supporters for the work they have done to help us make a positive difference to thousands of people across the north east.”
Rick Parry, Chair of the EFL, said: “The way that our clubs and CCOs have adapted to deal with the challenges of the past year is remarkable, responding to the growing needs of their communities affected by the pandemic while also continuing to deliver critical life-changing programmes in towns and cities across England and Wales to people who need it most.
“The EFL Day of Action gives us a platform to step back and take the time to acknowledge the hard work that our Clubs are doing in their communities every day of the year.”
14 April 2021