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Newcastle United Foundation coronavirus response helps almost 15,000 vulnerable people

Across a ten-week period where pandemic-related restrictions have put life on hold for millions across the globe, Newcastle United Foundation has remained committed to supporting disadvantaged communities across the North East.

While everybody has made changes to slow the spread of coronavirus, our most vulnerable relatives, neighbours, friends and colleagues have naturally made more sacrifices than many.

For more than 11 years, the official charity of Newcastle United has been changing lives for the better, helping people improve their physical and mental health, become more employable and encouraging them to reach their potential.

But with the charity’s work impacted by lockdown, dozens of members of staff were happily redeployed from their usual roles to ensure those in need would still safely receive support.

Following the Government’s announcement closing all UK schools effective in March, the charity invited its workforce to join relief efforts delivering food parcels and school resources to children who would normally receive free school meals.

More than 12,000 food parcels, food vouchers and education packs have been packaged, sorted and distributed across Newcastle’s East and West End under strict social distancing guidelines.

Volunteering staff have also made 1,000 telephone calls to elderly and vulnerable people connected to the Foundation or Newcastle United Football Club to check in on their mental health or even to reminisce together on their favourite memories at St. James’ Park.

Around 200 people have been given specific mental health guidance by Foundation staff at a time when feelings of loneliness and anxiety are at an all-time high for many.

Head of Newcastle United Foundation Steve Beharall, vowed the charity would be a constant presence for disadvantaged communities in Newcastle throughout the pandemic.

He said: “Looking back across the last ten weeks or so, I think everyone at Newcastle United Foundation can be incredibly proud of themselves and how we have reacted to such an unusual and challenging situation.

“Like so many others, we have learnt an incredible amount during this time about ourselves, our jobs and who we help. We believe we have grown stronger throughout this experience and we are more united than ever.’

He added: “Community is at the heart of everything we do and in years to come, we can look back at this period and know we were able to give the elderly support, ensure vulnerable families were fed and that we maintained children’s health and happiness.

“It has been tough for everyone and we have all made sacrifices in the hope that we can welcome every single one of our participants back in the weeks and months to come.”

Children and young adults have also been at the heart of the Foundation’s coronavirus response, ensuring learning, physical activity and employment opportunities continue as normal.

During the Easter period, 75 children of key workers were engaged with PE sessions hosted by charity staff, while 550 activity packs and footballs have been distributed to vulnerable children to boost their wellbeing in lockdown.

A total of 89 young people not in education, employment, or training have also been supported throughout this worrying period. Staff found many have faced increased uncertainty around their future career options.

However, eight participants have secured jobs as key workers in the NHS, retail and care sectors – boosting their own self-confidence and becoming part of a workforce keeping Britain moving.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust staff were also invited to access materials and guidance to maintain mental wellness through the Foundation’s Be A Game Changer campaign.

Dr James Prentis, Consultant Anaesthetist at Newcastle Hospitals, said: “Newcastle United is such an important part of everyone’s life and to have the support of the Foundation throughout this challenging time is amazing.

“To be one city united fighting together to keep everyone safe and well means so much to everybody involved in the Newcastle Hospitals.

“Being able to discuss mental wellbeing and realising its importance for all of our clinical teams in the current situation is so important.”

Lesley McEwen, Support Team Supervisor at NEPIA – funding partners of Newcastle United Foundation – said: “As a business that’s been based in the North East for 160 years, supporting the local community in which we live and work is incredibly important to us.

“We recognise the financial and social impact the coronavirus pandemic on many people across the region. Through our support for the Newcastle United Foundation, we know we are directly helping the vulnerable, young and elderly in our local community.

“The Foundation team is doing invaluable work during very challenging times, and we are delighted to provide our support and commitment.”

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