SAFC CHARITY LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO TACKLE SOCIAL ISOLATION

With four weeks to Christmas, Sunderland AFC and its official charity, Foundation of Light, have launched a special match day campaign dedicated to reducing social isolation in the North East.

The ‘Give a Quid for Social Isolation’ campaign aims to raise £30,000 to help people access activities that can reduce loneliness and improve physical and mental health.

The Black Cats take on Blackpool on 14th December at the Stadium of Light and the match is being dedicated to the club’s charity, to raise awareness and funds for its award-winning programmes across Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham.

Research shows there are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK and lonely people are more likely to suffer from dementia, heart disease and depression.

Studies also show that 42% of those over the age of 55 are inactive and would like opportunities to meet peers to feel less isolated, live well and do things they enjoy.

Foundation of Light runs a series of programmes for older generations at the Beacon of Light and throughout the region from its outreach centres.

From walking football and walking netball, through to ‘Sit and Be Fit’ and the EFL Extra Time Hubs project which has engaged participants in activities as diverse as ukulele playing, cooking, walks and bowls, the Foundation works hard to ensure everyone has a chance of a healthier and happier life regardless of age.

Talking about the Give a Quid campaign and the dedicated matchday, Lesley Spuhler OBE, Foundation of Light Chief Executive commented: “Christmas is typically a time when we get together with loved ones, enjoying time together and celebrating the festive season.

“But, sadly for some within our communities Christmas can highlight their loneliness and isolation from those around them, especially elderly people who may no longer work or take part in physical activities and enjoy the social networks both those things provide.

“ ‘Give a Quid for Social Isolation’ will help those people access life-changing programmes that place as much emphasis on social connections and interactions as physical activity.”

Norma from Silksworth, who has been taking part in the Extra Time Hub at the Beacon of Light added:

“The Hub has given me new friends and I love the exercise and activities we do in the sports hall.

“I think projects like these are great because socialising and activities are very important, especially as you get older.

“I would encourage people to support the Give a Quid campaign so more people can enjoy projects like these.”

The first ‘Give a Quid’ campaign, launched in March 2019, raised just over £30,000 to support the charity’s work across the North East to improve people’s mental health.

The campaign’s success helped fund the recently-opened Mental Health Matchday Hub, an informal drop in centre accessible to home and away fans at the Beacon of Light, coordinated by the SAFC Supporters Branch Liaison Council, with support from Washington Mind.

Additionally, Foundation of Light launched the ‘Get Set to Go!’ mental health project in October and earlier this year a Veterans Mental Health Complex Treatment Service in partnership with the NHS opening at the Beacon of Light.

How to get involved

A fundraising pack is available on the Foundation of Light website for businesses or community organisations who want to get involved. Businesses who support the campaign can receive visits from the Black Cats’ mascots Samson and Delilah, and Foundation of Light social media team to help with fundraising and raise awareness of this life-changing work.

There are lots of ways you can get involved. Why not organise a red and white day at work? Or get out of the office at lunch time and enjoy a ‘wellbeing walk’. Or maybe get together to chat over lunch with friends and colleagues.

If you are a business and would like to get involved, contact clare.wilson@foundationoflight.co.uk or call Clare on 0191 563 4777 to find out more.

To find out more about the Foundation of Light’s work visit www.foundationoflight.co.uk

Donations to the Give a Quid campaign can be made in person at the Beacon of Light, or online via the Foundation of Light website.