This week, as part of International Happiness at Work Week, Sunderland AFC boss Phil Parkinson recorded a special talk-in for Foundation of Light staff.
The club’s official charity has worked tirelessly over the last six months to support thousands of vulnerable people and families who found themselves at greater risk of poor mental health, physical inactivity or social isolation as a result of the pandemic.
From delivering food parcels to the most vulnerable and supporting local foodbanks, through to delivering online courses for people on furlough and providing befriending services and online activities for older generations, the Foundation has played a pivotal role in keeping Sunderland, South Tyneside and Durham communities safe during lockdown.
Speaking directly to the Foundation staff over Zoom, Parkinson gave them a few words of motivation, “Keep going. It’s been really tough. I know we’ve had a set-back in terms of the government announcement but I feel like that if things get done properly over the next few weeks, things will start to look better.
“For me, cycling was a big thing during the lockdown. I found that a great release. I wanted to use the lockdown to get myself fit and I got up most mornings and went out cycling or running. I really enjoyed that and I’ve done a lot of miles.
“Keep yourself engaged in interesting things like hobbies, keep yourself active and have a focus each day. We’ll get through this together and come through this stronger.
Talking about the importance of the club and the Foundation in the community the former Reading midfielder said, “One thing I’ve always done, wherever I’ve been, is make sure the players are playing their part in the community. It’s absolutely crucial and Sunderland is a community club.
It really is at the heart of the city; the players understand that and I understand the importance of the club in the community.
“It’s a huge honour for the players and myself to represent the club and we’ve got to clearly understand that. We’re representing a huge club and a big city and it’s a responsibility that we’re definitely aware of and I constantly remind the players of that.”
Parkinson was full of praise for the Foundation’s home, the Beacon of Light – a state-of-the-art community hub based on Stadium Park, “It’s an incredible facility. I’d been at the club a
couple of months and got invited down and I was blown away by it. It’s just amazing. What a great facility it is for the people of Sunderland to use.
“It’s a level above what you get at most other clubs, not just I’ve worked at but I’ve been to, and it’s important that it get utilised.”
Making a Difference
The Foundation matters to our communities now more than ever before and we want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has, and continues to, support us.
Sadly, the North East has one of the highest deprivation rates in the country, with a number of communities in the Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham living in the top 10% most-deprived areas in the UK.
For those communities, COVID-19 could spell disaster. For so many we are a vital lifeline, helping thousands to improve their lives.
Donate today by visiting JustGiving or text FOLFIVE to 70085 to donate £5
24 September 2020