The Sunderland football community has joined forces and raised over £14,000 in a week, as part of a very special fundraising initiative to support four local good causes playing their part to protect the most vulnerable during the COVID-19.
“Sunderland Together” was launched by Wearside supporters’ groups - Sunderland Branch Liaison Council and the Red and White Army – in partnership with Sunderland AFC, to raise vital funds for charities tackling food poverty, social isolation, poor mental health and unemployment.
With an initial target of £4,000 set, over £14,000 has been raised for Foundation of Light, The Salvation Army, Washington Mind and Veterans in Crisis to date, with one fan anonymously donating £10,000.
Sunderland Branch Liaison Council Chair, Jim Gilling said “We are absolutely delighted that we have smashed our original target of £4,000 for these four wonderful good causes. We thought we might reach it, but to exceed it by so much in a week, is amazing.
“Thank you so much to everyone who has donated or supported the campaign. It has been heart-warming to see the generosity of our fans and we have received messages of support from all around the world, with friends as far as America and Singapore helping us to raise the money.
“With money still coming in we are now hoping we can match the very generous anonymous donation and make it to £20,000.”
Andrew Hird, Chair of Red and White Army said “We are blown away by the generosity of our fantastic supporters. They have huge hearts, care for their communities and will always go that extra mile to support those in need. Thank you to everyone who has donated. Your money will make a real difference.”
Foundation of Light Chief Executive, Lesley Spuhler OBE said “The very special thing about this campaign is that it is the whole football community working together. COVID-19 is bigger than one charity or one organisation and the money raised will help us to start to rebuild our communities and protect the most vulnerable.
“I want to send a personal thank you to everyone who has donated to this campaign. Times are tough for so many and it has been overwhelming to see, and read, the messages of support.”
Ger Fowler, Chief Executive of Veterans in Crisis CIC said “Sunderland fans are the best in the world, and their generosity is incredible. We are very grateful, once again, for their support.”
Jacqui Reeves, Washington Mind CEO commented, "On behalf of everyone at Washington Mind I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the campaign; it means so much to us and the people we continue to support.
“There is no doubt that this crisis will lead to increased mental health need in our communities. The only way that we're going to be able to meet that need, is by working together, which is something we do very well in Sunderland and we are very proud to be part of that.”
Graham Wharton Community Manager The Salvation Army said “It is thrilling to be part of this amazing partnership as we strive to reach out to members of our local community who need our support at this time. We are thrilled that Sunderland Together is supported by so many compassionate supporters across the city and further afield, and to know that we are part of such a caring society.
“In recent days we’ve heard the phrase “we can get through this”; the people of Sunderland and surrounding areas have proven this to be the case as Sunderland Together is proving to be teamwork at its very best.”
Good causes involved and where the money will go
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.
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, so show your support and help us tackle this crisis together.