As the nation battles COVID-19, the official charity of Sunderland AFC, the Foundation of Light, is playing its part in the national effort by continuing to support some of the most vulnerable people
across the North East.
Working with tens of thousands of people each year throughout Wearside, the Foundation, which is based at the Beacon of Light, uses the power of football to improve people’s lives by tackling societal issues, such as social isolation, obesity, unemployment and anti-social behaviour.
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As everyone is staying home and staying safe, the Foundation team have not let that stop the good work that they do, looking for alternative ways to help families and reach out to those who need support.
More than 8,500 viewers engaged with weekly fitness challenges uploaded on to YouTube, with many taking part sharing their efforts on social media.
In addition, 15 new free online skills courses have been developed to support members of the public who have recently been placed on furlough or made unemployed as a result of the pandemic, as well as online resources being provided so over-16s can continue their existing scholarship courses.
Youngsters have also been encouraged to get creative with various stay at home activities, with daily inclusive challenges posted on the charity’s Facebook page reaching 1,500.
Meanwhile, staff have volunteered for more than 200 hours at Sunderland Foodbank, collecting food and delivering packages to those who are self-isolating.
Over 100 budding stars from the Foundation’s Player Development Centres have been staying in touch during lockdown, taking in part in online activities via Zoom, including question and answer sessions with former Sunderland AFC players and SAFC Ladies captain Keira Ramshaw.
Elsewhere, SAFC director David Jones personally called members of the Extra Time Hub, a programme run in partnership with the EFL that supports the over-55s with both physical and mental health.
The group were also sent videos to help stay active at home with special ‘Sit and Be Fit’ workouts.
Foundation of Light Chief Executive Lesley Spuhler OBE said: “As a charity at the heart of the Sunderland community, we have been playing a key role in supporting not only the most vulnerable but also the wider community.
“We have had to make considerable changes to our delivery in a relatively short space of time, moving from 100% face-to-face delivery out in the community, to moving to 100% online and distance provision.
“That is no mean feat and I am immensely proud of our staff and the work they are doing to support the people of Sunderland, South Tyneside and Durham.
“From over 200 hours of staff support to the Sunderland Foodbank, to launching 15 new online education courses for those who have recently been furloughed through to seated exercise and phone calls to our older and isolating participants, our work is making a life-changing difference.
“Thank you to everyone who continues to support us - without you, this wouldn’t be possible.”
For more information visit www.foundartionoflight.co.uk