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‘When they need us, we’ll be there’ – Football turns attention to communities

Community clubs are doing their best to help those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Uttoxeter Town are helping elderly residents in the local community (Uttoxeter Town/PA)

Uttoxeter Town are helping elderly residents in the local community (Uttoxeter Town/PA)

Uttoxeter Town are helping elderly residents in the local community (Uttoxeter Town/PA)

Football clubs from top flight to grassroots level have been providing vital services to their local communities after the domestic season was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Professional clubs such as Crystal Palace, Blackburn and Port Vale among others have been using their resources to help fans who are set to be without football until at least April 30.

Even smaller community clubs such as Uttoxeter Town, who ply their trade in the 10th tier of English football, are doing their best to help those in need.

Uttoxeter Town have been delivering prescriptions in conjunction with Balance Street Health Centre
Uttoxeter Town have been delivering prescriptions in conjunction with Balance Street Health Centre (Uttoxeter Town/PA)

Jonathan Landells, the club’s development officer, told the PA news agency: “There are people desperate to get things delivered so we came up (with) the plan by putting out the idea that the bus was available on a Covid-19 Facebook group locally.

“Various people came up with different ideas and the one that we thought was most workable was distributing prescriptions to the elderly and vulnerable that can’t get out because of the current situation.

“We are doing key areas locally to about a 12-mile radius. We have got a resource so we thought we’d try and utilise it as best as we could. When they need us, we will be there.”

The club are helping "elderly and vulnerable" residents receive their medication
The club are helping “elderly and vulnerable” residents receive their medication (Uttoxeter Town/PA)

The Midland Football League Division One side started their operation on Wednesday, carrying out 15 deliveries of prescriptions to elderly and vulnerable residents.

They are working in conjunction with the Balance Street Health Centre and hope the numbers will increase as more people become aware of the service.

Landells added: “Because of the social distancing, we have an employee from the local dispensary on the back of the bus with all the prescriptions, we place the items outside the door, wait for them to receive the prescriptions and present the meds to them.

“We are trying to lead by example.”

Uttoxeter Town have been delivering prescriptions in local villages
Uttoxeter Town have been visiting local villages (Uttoxeter Town/PA)

Blackburn Rovers Community Trust have improved their strong links with Blackburn Foodbank during the Covid-19 outbreak – their role has become more essential after the foodbank was forced to shut on March 23 due to government guidelines.

Rovers, alongside catering partner Sodexo, donated over £5,500 worth of food and supplies to the foodbank and have ensured that seven community trust employees will assist three days a week to help deliver food packages for up to 40 families.

Blackburn Rovers Community Trust have been supporting Blackburn Foodbank
Blackburn Rovers Community Trust are supporting Blackburn Foodbank (Blackburn Rovers/PA)

Events and fundraising officer Jess Clegg said: “It’s absolutely vital at this stage that we are continuing our support and working alongside Blackburn Foodbank to ensure some of the most vulnerable individuals and families in the area are receiving their food packages.

“As a community trust, our work very much revolves around working within all communities in our town, to support and help those that need it most, even more so at a critical time which we are currently experiencing.

“We are extremely proud to be offering our help and as an organisation we will continue to do so until we are told otherwise.”

Blackburn Rovers Community Trust have helped deliver food packages across the town
Blackburn Rovers Community Trust have helped deliver food packages across the town (Blackburn Rovers/PA)

Premier League club Crystal Palace, meanwhile, have been calling season-ticket holders over the age of 70 to check on the welfare of their fans during isolation.

Sky Bet Championship side West Brom have donated 150 parcels from produce at the Hawthorns to NHS frontline staff and delivered essentials to foodbanks and community centres using donations from local businesses.

Port Vale have been delivering food care packages to the “most vulnerable” around the Stoke-on-Trent area, while fellow League Two club Stevenage have offered a “community care service” which includes food bank donations and a phone service for over people aged over 70.

PA