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19th June 2020

 A Newcastle based junior football club has teamed up with a North East charity to provide food and welfare parcels across the city to those in need during lockdown.

Red House Farm FC, a leading local football club, has joined forces with Edge North East, a charity that works with Northumbria Police and Northumbria Police & Crime Commissioner to provide training and mentoring around county lines, child exploitation and more.

The partnership has seen over 200 deliveries go out to vulnerable families and individuals struggling during lockdown – a combination of food packages, as well as hygiene and wellbeing packs.

Chris Mann, secretary at Red House Farm FC and mentor at Edge NE who started the initiative, said: “We knew that there were members of our own football club who would struggle to provide the additional meals during lockdown, never mind the other individuals and families who didn’t have someone to care for them. That is where is began, and then expanded into helping the local elderly residents who were shielding as well.”

Using their clubhouse on Kingston Park Road to pack and prepare the packages, the club have been overwhelmed by the generosity and support of members, local charities and funders.

Chris said: “The response has been fantastic – I think it has opened a lot of people’s eyes to the situations that some are facing during lockdown and the inequalities people are suffering.”

“We wouldn’t have been able to support as many as we have without the generous financial support from Edge NE, the Red House Farm FC Trustees, The Ballinger Trust, Samantha’s Legacy & Fawdon Ward Councillors. Their funding has enabled us to purchase fresh food items along with the non-perishable supplies provided by FareShare.”

Northumbria Police & Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, has thanked Red House Farm FC & Edge NE for their collaboration which has supported many in need through these challenging times.

Kim said: “It has been so pleasing to see local organisations come together to support their communities during these difficult times. Parents will be feeling the extra burden of additional meals whilst schools are closed, so the work being done here to support that will be greatly appreciated across the city.”

“This has been a great example of the good that sport can do, and the role these organisations play within their community. Young people have faced a lot of adversity these last 3 months, and this support will have gone a long way to supporting them through the challenges of lockdown.”

As football training, albeit in a different format to usual returns to Red House Farm, the club have taken an extra step to support the return of their 450+ members.

Chris said: “We understand the impact this will have had on young people, so we have offered mental health training to all coaches to help them provide an extra element of support to their players. Our members see this as a safe place and we will be doing all we can do help them after what will have been a potentially damaging 13 weeks in lockdown.”

Collette Devlin-Smith, Managing Director of Edge NE, highlighted the importance of this project in supporting the vulnerable and reducing risk amongst vulnerable young people in the communities being supported.

“This work is not just about delivering food parcels – it’s about the support we can give to families on the doorstep when delivering them, being there to talk to and ensuring young people are following the guidelines.”

“Young people have had their safe spaces taken from them during this, and whilst some have been able to take part in online provisions, not all have that luxury. Being able to drop a food parcel off and have a conversation at the door has never been so important and valued.”

Red House Farm FC have committed to delivering food parcels for the foreseeable future and continuing to support the families and individuals they are currently engaging.

When asked about continuing during the summer holidays, Chris said: “I would love to continue – we’ve been able to provide some families with foods & treats they normally wouldn’t be able to purchase, so if the donations and support continue, then we look to maintain the service.”