Let's help city charities kick on

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The Sunderland football community has come together for a very special fundraising initiative to support four local good causes playing their part to protect the most vulnerable during the COVID-19.

Wearside supporters’ groups, Sunderland Branch Liaison Council, and the Red and White Army have joined forces with Sunderland AFC to launch “Sunderland Together” which aims to raise vital funds for charities tackling food poverty, social isolation, poor mental health and unemployment.

Together they have nominated Foundation of Light, The Salvation Army, Washington Mind and Veterans in Crisis to benefit from the campaign with all money raised being split equally between the good causes to provide life-changing services during and after lockdown.

And now Sunderland Business Partnership members are being invited to help the initiative kick on by making a donation – large or small – to support the charities.

The Salvation Army supports nearly 1,000 people across the Sunderland community with a wide range of support services including food parcels to those suffering from food poverty through to conversation digital pastoral care for the elderly and socially isolated. Money raised from the campaign will go towards providing vital services across the city and the region.

Washington Mind works to improve the mental health of people living in Sunderland, Washington and the Coalfields, supporting those who are experiencing emotional or mental distress to regain their full potential in life or work. Money raised via Sunderland Together will go towards purchasing a van, allowing the charity to offer a mobile service so they can support the community as and when they need, as well as provide community outreach to challenge and end stigma around mental health

Veterans in Crisis (VICS) provides companionship and support for veterans and their families, across a wide range issues and needs. Working to increase confidence and improve mental health, when their members are ready they are also offered volunteering opportunities, training and employment advice to help them to seek and apply for work.

Donations from the campaign will be used to maintain daily contact with more than 250 people and their families, providing them with the essentials they need, and ensure that they are in a good place to get back to normal when the pandemic is over.

The Foundation of Light uses the power of football to involve, educate and inspire people of all ages across Sunderland, South Tyneside and Durham to tackle a range of societal issues including unemployment, obesity, poor mental health, social isolation and anti-social behaviour.

The award-winning charity will use money raised by Sunderland Together to provide free, online training and support for those who have recently been furloughed or made redundant by helping them to gain qualifications through re-training or giving them support to develop a new CV or interview techniques.

Jim Gilling, Chair of SAFC BLC, said: “The SAFC Branch Liaison Council (BLC) welcome the opportunity to be a part of the SAFC football family helping four well deserving causes that will assist the local community in as many ways as possible.

“We hope that our supporters’ branches and all SAFC supporters will get behind this campaign and raise as much funding as possible for these great causes.”

Andrew Hird from Red and White Army said: “I am proud that the Sunderland football community is coming together to support these four fantastic causes. Each is working hard to support vulnerable and isolated parts of the community to ensure they are safe and well.

“Sunderland fans are so passionate about their community and have shown time and again that they will go the extra mile to help those in hard times. Let’s get behind this fantastic project to ensure that those who need our support have it when they need it most.”

Speaking about the campaign Sunderland AFC Manager Phil Parkinson said: “This is a fantastic initiative by the supporters’ groups. Once again, our fans have shown that they will support each other, and those in need, when it matters most.

“I would encourage supporters to give what they can. Just £1 will make a difference to local lives and help to ensure that thousands of people across the region get the support they need.”

To make a donation visit the dedicated Sunderland Together fundraising page https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sunderlandtogether

The campaign is also using #SunderlandTogether across social channels, to allow supporters to raise awareness of the initiative.

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