Last night at the Tyneside Irish Centre (26/Jan/2016) saw the launch of the NUFC Supporters Foodbank.
Mike Nixon of the Newcastle West End Foodbank gave the audience some information about the work he and fellow volunteers are involved in. It was simultaneously shocking and life-affirming. Shocking that this is happening in a modern, European city in one of of the world’s richest economies but life-affirming that people like Mike and his fellow volunteers have the drive, practical skills and compassion to devote themselves to this valuable work.
In truth the launch of the NUFC Supporters Foodbank is not before time as there are several fan-related Foodbank projects around the country most notably in Liverpool and backed strongly by Everton’s Blue Union and Liverpool’s Spirit of Shankly supporters’ groups. In Glasgow fans’ groups at Celtic and Rangers are similarly involved in projects of this kind and the same is true at Hibernian in Edinburgh who do some fantastic work.
Now its our turn to step up to the mark.
Here are some uncomfortable truths:
The Newcastle West End Foodbank is the largest foodbank in the UK.
More than 1000 people in Newcastle alone receive a food parcel each week.
Those benefiting from a food parcel include children and disabled people. In Newcastle. In 2017.
Most of the food parcels are made from donations made from people in London. That shocked me but it shouldn’t because I’ve only sporadically donated to a Foodbank and I guess I’m pretty typical. I’m pretty ashamed I haven’t done more. I have assumed the donations were coming from people in the North East but it seems as though they are not. Our community and by that I mean me, my family and perhaps you reading this should be doing a lot more. If you think its right. My outrage, my political analysis of why this is happening and that it shouldn’t be isn’t going to help a parent with no money and nothing in the fridge for his or her kids in Newcastle, Tyneside and the wider North East region. They can’t afford my political posturing.
And demand for Food Parcels in Newcastle is increasing.
There is a shortage of items which many of us would regard as the basics – soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toilet-roll, sanitary products and more.
So, why should football supporters or more specifically Newcastle United supporters be asked to donate to a Foodbank?
A day at the match is an opportunity to escape the pressures of the working week, meet friends, have a bit of escapism and hopefully see the team we all have binds to over many years win a match and send us home with a warm glow.
Well, we support Newcastle United because its our identity, because we have a sense of community and regional pride and its why we describe ourselves as GEORDIES! Let’s be honest if it was purely about the football we’d all be in front of the telly with a massive bag of crisps and munching our way through Real Madrid or Barcelona or Bayern Munich or whatever club is being bankrolled by some oil sheikh or oligarch. We don’t though. We stick with Newcastle United because its our club, the club that represents the city and the wider region that is home to its support.
Does that translate beyond anything else though? Is it just an affiliation beyond our local football club? Do we just go to the match, go home and forget about it or does the football club represent something much deeper and meaningful.
I think it does. That’s why we have the Newcastle United Foundation and other projects that trade off the power of that Newcastle United badge and the love it generates around here. We all know that the club can be a massive force for good on our door-steps but much wider as well.
There will be more detailed news to come but for the time being please note that the first NUFC Supporters Foodbank collection will take place before the Derby Co game on Saturday 4/Feb/2017. The focus will be on making it as easy possible for supporters to drop off some essential items that will provide much needed help for people who are our neighbours, the people we share the city and region with.
All donations will go through the Newcastle West End Foodbank but will thereafter be donated to other Foodbanks across Tyneside and the North East. If the Newcastle West End Foodbank is providing Food Parcels for 1000 people per week in Newcastle alone you can imagine the demand across the rest of the region.
In the coming week you’ll get details of the collection points as well as the recommended items to bring along.
You might want to do more and be a volunteer, there will be more information on that too.
The NUFC SUPPORTERS FOODBANK has the support of Newcastle United FC, the Newcastle United Supporters Trust, NUFCFansUnited, NUFC.COM and true faith.
Please give and do what you can and support NUFC SUPPORTERS FOODBANK.