This weekend’s match against Accrington Stanley will be played against a very special backdrop as Sunderland AFC dedicate the match to its official charity, Foundation of Light.
The EFL League One clash will showcase the work of the award-winning community charity, celebrating its tireless support of thousands of people and families across the North East.
2021 is a very special year for the Foundation as it marks the 20th anniversary of becoming a registered charity. Over the last two decades, the Foundation – which is widely recognised as one of the leading football charities in the UK – has supported over half a million people across Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham to improve their lives by tackling some of the region’s biggest challenges including unemployment, obesity, poor mental health and social isolation.
Founded by club chairman, Sir Bob Murray CBE in 2001, the Foundation started with a handful of people and has gone on to employ over 100 staff and be supported by over 170 volunteers, with a beautiful state-of-the-art community sports and events hub, the Beacon of Light, as it’s home.
During Saturday’s game, players will be wearing one-off commemorative match shirts sporting the #FoL20 logo and the Lads will also warm-up in specially created t-shirts with a message thanking fans for their support over the years and most recently for their amazing support of the Sunderland Together initiative.
Supported by the Foundation, virtual Wembley ticket campaign gave supporters a common goal and united them at a time where they couldn’t be together, going on to raise over £174,000 for the Foundation, Sunderland Foodbank, Salvation Army and Washington Mind.
Foundation of Light Managing Director Jamie Wright explained why the match is so important “Every year our dedicated matchday plays a really important part in our calendar. Not only does it give us the opportunity to raise money but it also showcases the work we do across the region.
“This year our match day is a little different as we won’t be in the Stadium as usual. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Sunderland fans over the last year, so this weekend’s matchday is focused on showcasing how support donations are helping communities across the region. It also gives us a chance to say thank you for the support we have received, not only this year, but over the last twenty years.”
Last week, Sunderland AFC and Foundation of Light were announced as the regional EFL Community Club of the Year for the North East and Yorkshire, recognising the work that the wider SAFC football family has done over the last 12 months to support those most in need.
Throughout lockdown and the pandemic the Foundation has continued to help people of all ages from creating and delivering new reskilling employability programmes to delivering care packages and online sports challenges.
In the past 12 months the Foundation has:
- delivered 10,000 sessions across 40 different programmes
- Helped 320 families and worked with 100 schools
- Supported 2,200 people with a disability
- Given 100 furloughed or newly unemployed people access to 15 free employability programmes
- Delivered care packages to over 1,500 elderly people, and provided garden-gate visits and telephone befriending support
Throughout the course of the matchday there will be testimonials from those who have benefitted from our programmes – Courtney, who learnt new skills thanks to the National Citizenship Scheme (NCS), Tony and his son Daniel who has autism, Robert, who found companionship thanks to our Wear Together programme and Kirsten who’s son Mason is part of the Foundation’s Player Development Centre.
How you can help
There’s a number of ways supporters can show their support for the work of the Foundation this match day.
Supporters will be able to get their hands on the special match-worn shirts after the game through a special auction. Each player will sign their shirt and it will then be listed on eBay, with all proceeds from the online auction going to support Foundation’s work.
As always, the Ha’way and Play matchday lottery will be taking place. The draw is made on the 60th minute of every home game and for Saturday’s game there is a very special prize up for grabs. As well as the £1,000 and the bonus jackpot fans could also win a framed signed print of Foundation ambassador Niall Quinn celebrating his goal against Newcastle United.
To buy your Ha’way and Play lottery ticket visit at www.hawayandplay.com
To make a donation to the Foundation and to support the charity’s life-changing work visit www.justgiving.com/safc or text FOLFIVE to 70085 to make a £5 donation.
21 April 2021