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 Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham.

Working with tens of thousands each year throughout Wearside, the Foundation uses the power of football to improve people’s lives by tackling societal issues, such as social isolation, obesity, unemployment and anti-social behaviour.

Sadly, the north east has one of the highest deprivation rates in the country, with a number of communities living in the top 10% most-deprived areas in the UK. For those communities, COVID-19 could spell disaster.

For so many now, the Foundation and other charities across the region are a vital lifeline, and matter now more than ever before.

As the nation has been told to stay home and stay safe, the Foundation of Light 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.

Both daily and weekly challenges via social media have seen people of all ages engage, as they try to stay active at home.

Staff have been supporting the Sunderland Foodbank, working a number of shifts each week to box up care packages and answer phones, as well as deliver food packages to vulnerable children in schools in Durham.

Foundation staff have also been providing regular support to elderly members of the community, through its Extra Time Hub, by maintaining daily content through telephone and What’s App, delivering care packages to those who need and recording easy seated exercise to help them stay healthy and active at home.

Online resources have also been set up to allow learners to continue making progress on their education courses, with courses due to launch in the coming weeks to support members of the public who have recently been placed on furlough.

But more can be done and Foundation of Light Chair, Sir Bob Murray, is appealing for the public to continue to support the award-winning charity, so it can continue its vital work with a range of partners and other charities to protect and support those most in need.

Welcoming last night’s news from Chancellor Rishi Sunak, that the government will create a £750 million package for struggling charities, Sir Bob explains, “New research from the Institute of Fundraising has shown that charities across the country are expecting a 48% loss of voluntary income due to coronavirus but almost half expect an increase in demand.

“That is reflective of our situation; times are tough for the region and we are anticipating that some income streams will stop from both corporate and public funders. But we are also anticipating that once lockdown finishes there will be more families in need. More people will be unemployed and need re-trained; more families will be struggling to feed their children and provide a structured environment; and sadly, more young people will be drawn to anti-social behaviour.

“It is vital that we work alongside a number of partners to play our part in protecting the most vulnerable and ensuring that as many people as possible are supported over the coming weeks and months.

“I am therefore reaching out to the Sunderland AFC community to thank you for your continued support. We recognise that this is a challenging time for many but the kind words, support and donations we have received have been greatly received and appreciated. So, from me to you – thank you.”

How you can help

Just £4 will help the Foundation to support an older person in the community by helping them stay active in their homes, delivering care packages to their doors and be a friendly voice at the end of a phone.

£15 will help the charity teach a family how to cook on a budget using ingredients which are easily available to them through the charity’s Family Learning programme.

To help, donate today via the Foundation of Light JustGiving page –