MFC Foundation are one of many EFL Club Community Organisations working tirelessly to ensure they maintain a positive impact in their local community despite the difficult situation we are currently facing.
Helena Bowman, Head of the Foundation based at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium, says the need to engage with the community has never been greater, while using the power of the club badge and their resources to reach out brings everyone together.
“Never has it been so important that we are here to support our community," she says. "As a charity, working in the heart of the Teesside community, MFC Foundation aims to inspire confidence and hope in young people and adults who need our support.
“I’m extremely proud of our staff who not only have adapted their programmes to provide online resources and tools to support learning from home, but are also working directly in the community assisting those who need us most.
“With the elderly and most vulnerable isolated, there is a worry they will struggle to get hold of essential food items and there are many requiring help. MFC Foundation are doing all they can to ensure no-one in the community goes hungry during this pandemic.”
As well as donating £1,000 worth of food to a Middlesbrough foodbank, the Foundation are also offering practical help, ensuring food is getting delivered.
There are 40 elderly residents who rely on Redcar and Cleveland food bank who would usually visit once a week to collect their food, and MFC Foundation have stepped in to deliver this to them. In addition, they are also working with the local council to help elderly residents with their shopping who can’t get an online delivery slot.
It is not just the elderly and vulnerable who are at risk of going hungry during these unprecedented times. Many families across the community are supported by free school meals during term time and, with schools being closed, this could become problematic to parents, particularly those whose income is affected.
Just recently, the Boro first-team players clubbed together to buy 1,000 food parcels, ones distributed by club and Foundation staff, plus volunteers.
MFC Foundation are supporting families in East Cleveland by distributing free school meals to 75 households, three times per week. Staff have also raised the spirits of these local families by dressing up as superhero characters to make the deliveries.
Helena added: “From delivering free school meals across East Cleveland to supporting the NHS with deliveries and shopping for the vulnerable and elderly, we have re-focused our efforts to support where we can, whilst following Government guidelines of social distancing.”
With most schools closed, many youngsters are missing out on vital education and so MFC Foundation have developed a ‘Virtual Classroom’ that has a plethora of resources for young people and adults to take part in.
Meeting daily challenges head on, MFC Foundation are doing all they can to keep participants of their projects engaged. They are currently working with a quarter-finalist from MasterChef who is cooking and developing food parcels including Sunday lunches which are being delivered to participants of their ‘Team Talk’ and ‘Kitchen Therapy’ programmes.
Recently, an online collaboration with the Head Chef of Middlesbrough Football Club, Howard Archer, brought recipe ideas to a new audience. This is a weekly engagement and one that has proved very popular.
Another initiative MFC Foundation are working hard to continue is their FITBORO programme, a project designed to help and support participants lose weight and lead healthier lifestyles. Staying fit and healthy now is as important as ever and so the program has been adapted so that exercise sessions have been delivered through Zoom and WhatsApp.
'Every Player Counts' is a disability programme aiming to get participants playing regular football. Whilst this is not currently possible, MFC Foundation have been working hard to get resources and activity plans out to their participants to keep them active and happy.
There is also a recognition that spirits in the community might be a bit low right now, so the Foundation are using their social media channels to release a Midday Message in the hope of lifting spirits in a variety of ways.
“Every avenue is being explored, every resource used and we’re helping where we can and it is safe to do,” concluded Helena, Head of a Foundation who are meeting challenges and helping others adapt to the most testing, challenging of times most of us have ever known."