The Foundation have had a busy time since lockdown measures started due to COVID-19 with a big shift towards helping vulnerable people in the community.
This has involved transferring its day to day delivery away from school sport, player development centres, community sport and health sessions, moving its staff and resources onto either online or practical activity, to support the local community.
Foundation Director Phil Rudling below provides an update on what’s been going on, as the club strives to play an important part in the community at this difficult time.
Dons Local Action Group
The Foundation is delighted to be working in partnership with the Dons Local Action Group in supporting residents across Merton, Kingston and Wandsworth, offering a community response to the COVID 19 crisis. The Foundation’s role is in providing a call centre for the operation that operates from 9 am until 6.00 pm (Monday – Friday) and 9 am until 12 noon (Saturday), linking in with community partners such as Merton Age Concern, Alzeimers Society, Mind Kingston, and the health sector, to direct referrals to the food distribution hubs at Old Rutlishians and Kingmeadow.
Foundation staff also provide minibus support by collecting from the supermarket collection points three days per week and delivering food to partners such as St George’s Hospital, Tooting – providing essential supplies to children and nurses on the children’s ward. Xavier Wiggins from DLAG approached us four weeks ago to get involved in the project to provide food and care support for vulnerable Merton residents. As part of this, we’ve linked up with Merton Mutual Aid and Old Rutlishians, who are providing the food hub venue as the club’s official charity. We were really pleased to help provide back office and practical support quickly to establish this fan-led initiative.
Xavier and Craig at Old Rutlishians have put in huge amounts of work alongside the hundreds of supporters and local volunteers who have been involved. It’s been a great example of a club-wide effort, forming brilliant partnerships with local clubs and community organisations. It’s been fantastic to see blue and yellow flags across Merton, Kingston and now Wandsworth!
You can contact the Dons Local Action Group on 020 3301 4511 (9am-6pm), or you can e-mail email@example.com .
The Foundation also continues to run online versions of its key programmes, including Premier Stars, PL Kicks, London Kicks, Get Set to Go – Mind in Kingston, and NCS National Citizens Service, during this period. Our staff team are maintaining contact with participants through various forms of social media and setting physical challenges and activities to keep young people engaged. Foundation Coach Alan Sellers has produced keep fit videos for older players, whilst Kasha Petit, our Female Football and Social Inclusion Officer, has created online skills challenges for our cohorts of young players. We are now working with the EFL Trust on its new FIT FANS initiative to provide a safe way for fans to get active in the safety of their homes. In support of Sport England’s ‘Stay in Work Out’ campaign, the programme will ensure fans have a safe way to start and maintain exercise safely, during this current period. See the article on the official website for more details.
Foundation Phone Service
The staff team has also been busy in phoning approximately 500 season ticket holders (aged 70-plus) for a social call to check on their well-being over this period. Manager Glyn Hodges, Nick Daws, and first-team players Joe Piggot, Kwesi Appiah, Luke O’Neill, and Will Nightingale have been involved in this process. Hopefully, this has brought some comfort to our elderly fans and reduced social isolation through this work. Scott Lockwood, Football Development and Schools Officer, said: “It’s been great to make contact with our older supporters and make sure they are safe and well, or to provide some extra support. The players and management have been great and picked up many calls, providing an unexpected surprise to many fans.” If you would to contact us to arrange a social call, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
We are now starting to think about the longer term impact of this period on young and older people in our community and planning activity for late summer in the hope that some provision is possible. We would like to get kids playing sports, socialising and learning together, as soon as possible, and we are looking to support disadvantaged communities on our patch, therefore building on the DLAG’s excellent community work and its use of volunteers.