Prevented from plying their usual trade by the coronavirus pandemic, English football clubs are turning to their attentions to helping local communities cope with huge disruption to daily life.
Liverpool’s cruise towards a first league title in 30 years has been put on hold, with the Premier League suspended for the foreseeable future.
But the loss of four home games for the Reds and five for neighbours Everton could have had much more severe consequences for those dependent on the North Liverpool Foodbank.
Around a quarter of food donations are collected at Liverpool and Everton home games by an organisation called Fans Supporting Foodbanks.
Liverpool’s players and the club’s foundation have contributed £40 000 ($46 000) towards ensuring the foodbank does not run dry at a time of crisis.
“If people are having to use a foodbank week in, week out anyway, the most disadvantaged in our community will be the hardest-hit during this period of time,” LFC Foundation director Matt Parish told AFP.
“They can’t stockpile, they can’t build up reserves of food in the house. They will need that ongoing support during this time.”
Liverpool staff will take an active role in the collection and distribution of food due to the added complication that many of the foodbank’s volunteers are older people, who are more at risk from the virus.
The foundation’s range of programmes in the community, including football coaching, sessions for disabled children and activities for the elderly have been cancelled.
However, provisions are being made by providing fitness videos available at home and keeping in touch with people who are isolated.
“We are very conscious that physical activity is important, but also that people don’t feel like they are just stuck at home,” said Parish.
“We have the ability to call people to maintain that contact. It’s going to be challenging for all of us to isolate, but if you are older or living alone that is probably even more stark.”