Dan Wynne (Community Sports Foundation) and Stuart Cox (Head of Catering) sat down for a video call this week to discuss the positive effects that CSF’s outreach activity is having on the community.
You can read the full, eye-opening transcript from their chat below.
DW: Stuart, you’re Head of Catering but you haven’t been doing a lot of catering over the last few weeks. Can you explain to us what you’ve been doing as part of the Canaries COVID-19 Community Project?
SC: We put out a call to try to get as many volunteers to help us as possible. The club put out a call to arms in its weekly newsletter for people to come and help out with various projects that are going on.
For instance, there’s the callout list – we have around about 50 volunteers from Norwich City FC from all aspects, whether that be accounts, academy, catering, finance etc. They’re all helping to callout to all of our season ticket holders.
In week one of lockdown, the club and the volunteers called all season ticket holders over the age of 80 to check in on them, make sure they’re okay and that they’ve got the relevant support or if there was anything we could help with.
We’ve continued to do that for the over-70s and are now branching out to all of the over-60s as well. The over-60s callouts are still continuing. Over the last five weeks, we’ve called over 7000 people who are season ticket holders.
Some of them are general chats just to see how they are and the majority of people have been fine and don’t really need anything from us, but there are the odd one or two that would benefit from things we can support them with, whether it be collecting pharmaceutical goods from the local pharmacists that they aren’t allowed to go out to because they’re vulnerable or have to be self-isolated, to things where we can provide food parcels, which is kind of the next stage of what we’ve been involved with here.
Each week since lockdown, we’ve been getting in around 500 food parcels that we can easily load in and out of the Barclay stand. It’s a large area so people can quite easily distance themselves from each other when preparing the boxes.
We’ve dished out around 2500 boxes and are getting another 500 ready for distribution this Friday to various charities.
DW: So it sounds like it’s a hive of activity and you’re all having to work to keep your distance but are still getting the job done. Apart from the season ticket holders, what other local organisations have you partnered up with to make sure people are receiving the essentials that they need?
SC: I probably won’t be able to remember them all, but I’ll give it a go. We’ve got Dawn’s New Horizon, which is a domestic abuse charity in Norwich. We’ve provided them with around 120 boxes over the last couple of weeks.
We’ve done some things for New Routes as well, which is another local charity in Norwich. We’ve worked with Leeway, which is another domestic abuse charity in the north of Norwich. We’ve worked with Soul Church and Mile Cross Food Distribution Hub.
We’ve worked with Cromer, North Norfolk, King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth. I’ve got a feeling we’ve been down to Wymondham, so we’re helping out with food distributions across the whole of the county, so it’s not just centralised to Norwich.
DW: So, it’s really a case of you guys working with those local partners to identify the needs and then help out when we can. They’re doing fantastic work already and we’re just helping.
SC: Yeah, we’re just helping to support even those like Break Charity, who have got quite a lot already setup, but an extra 25 or 30 boxes per week can really help them support those that they have close to their charity.
DW: We’re in the response phase of this at the moment and it’s been boosted by the donations from the players and some of the senior staff to get this project rolling. What boost has it been for people to see the football club helping when they’ve been out in the community?
SC: Massive. We’re kind of stuck here indoors, but the distribution guys are going out and the Community Sports Foundation have been fantastic at taking predominantly 2500 parcels alongside the kitmen from Norwich City FC around the whole of the county.
The response they’ve been getting from those that have been delivered to has been phenomenal and they really appreciate it, which is great to hear.
DW: We’ve talked about the response and getting the emergency supplies out. How great is it that the Foundation will be able to use some of these funds that have come from the players to deliver longer-term programmes that might help people recover with their mental and physical wellbeing, or even for people who might have lost their income during this? It must be a great boost for the community to know that the football club and the Foundation are going to be able to do that.
SC: Without a shadow of a doubt. For those who are finding it difficult out there at the moment, any support is good, even if it’s just a phone call to somebody, or maybe it’s the forums people can use to meet up in when we are finally out of this lockdown stage to help people recover from what has been a pretty traumatic experience for many people.
DW: You talked about the call to arms. What sort of response did the Foundation and the club get from its staff? These are guys, some of them, who don’t normally interact necessarily with the community as they’re doing hard work in the office and aren’t always out face to face. They must love being able to make that difference in the community.
SC: It’s a weird thing to say, but it’s been a great thing for those that want to be involved and feel like they can make a difference within the local community. It’s great to then have feedback from people to say, ‘thanks very much’.
A simple example is we found a season ticket holder who had just come out of hospital and she couldn’t get out of the house. She hadn’t necessarily got anyone who could help with delivery of food, so we organised to get a food parcel taken round to her.
She offered to pay because she couldn’t believe we were offering her that. I said ‘look, this is genuinely a thing from the football club that if you’re in need of food then we’re there to help you get through this period’.
She kind of broke down into tears and couldn’t believe the football club was doing something like this. I know on a delivery day, when she actually got the parcel from CSF, again she cried in disbelief that we were helping her out in this way.
That’s just one story and we’ve sent out 2500 parcels across the county, so hopefully all the stories are similar of people being in disbelief that the club are doing this. It’s a fantastic thing to be involved with for all of us here.
We know how much the club and CSF means to the community and this is just proof of that.
DW: Christoph Zimmermann was among those volunteers taking out packages last week. Our squad are wonderful guys and desperate to help out in these times as well aren’t they?
SC: Definitely, the team have been involved right from the off. Their support in all of this has been brilliant.