Boro Fans Supporting Foodbanks
By Rob Nichols
Wednesday 08 Nov 2017 16:47:00
Browse all Boro News articles
I recently joined other supporters, MPs and community leaders at St James’ Park to look at the growing relationship between football fans and foodbanks. I wondered specifically whether this is something that Middlesbrough fans could get behind on Teesside.

Convened by the FSF, the Fans Supporting Foodbanks event looked at how fans can be a positive driver for change and provide support to their local foodbanks.

A banner proclaimed that “Hunger doesn’t wear club colours,” but we have now reached a crisis point where the Trussell Trust say they are giving out 2 million food parcels a year. The stats are indeed alarming, the trust operates 450 food banks nationally and there are 700 independent ones. But where football fans have been mobilised they have really helped.

Supporters heard about the relationship between Newcastle United fans and the country’s largest foodbank, Newcastle West End Foodbank, as well as work going on at Celtic and on Merseyside.

Kevin Miles, FSF chief executive, said: “While we’d all rather live in a world where food banks weren’t necessary, as long as they are it’s great to see football supporters taking seriously their commitment to their local community.

“The event has been really successful, promoting the idea, sharing best practice and inspiring activity in new areas.”

Newcastle’s Chi Onwurah MP and Gateshead’s Ian Mearns MP spoke about the challenges facing families in the north east and the demands placed upon volunteer-led foodbanks.

Supporters and community figures representing clubs including Liverpool, Everton, Celtic, Sunderland, Aston Villa and Doncaster Rovers were also in attendance.

Supporters agreed to set up a Fans Supporting Foodbank network to help activists keep in touch, develop a toolkit to help supporters who want to get involved in their local foodbanks and look at the possibility of a national weekend of action on food poverty.

“Supporters have really bought into what we’re doing,” said Tara Maguire, co-ordinator of Glasgow North East Foodbank. “More than half of our donations from the last four years have come from our Celtic Park collections.

“It’s been a really powerful link up.”

At the last supporter collection at Celtic Park, Tara says the foodbank took in 4.8 tonnes of food and 600 pairs of trainers. Collections at St James’ Park, Anfield and Goodison Park have been similarly successful. Newcastle fans now collect a whopping £1000 and 1 tonne of food every home match at St James Park.

In the seventh wealthiest nation in the world we surely should not have people starving or even having to choose between fuel and food but as football fans we have the power in numbers to help make a difference in a crisis.

Fans Supporting Foodbanks was hosted by Newcastle United and Sodexo.

Can we as Boro football fans do more to help foodbanks on Teesside? I will bringing this up at next week's fans forum and then looking to see if we can join forces with the football club and possibly local authority to make a difference.



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