Fans & foodbanks a "powerful link up" say campaigners

Fans Supporting Foodbanks 1

Supporters, MPs and community leaders gathered at St James’ Park on Friday to look at the burgeoning relationship between football fans and foodbanks.

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.

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.

Fans Supporting Foodbanks was hosted by Newcastle United and Sodexo.