Rovers midfielder Bradley Johnson has teamed up with former footballer Dexter Blackstock to make sure hospices and care homes aren’t overlooked during the current Coronavirus crisis.
The close friends are working together to raise money to buy and deliver vital medical equipment to help keep key workers safe during these challenging times.
Johnson, who joined Rovers from Derby County last summer, says the idea was born out of a challenge on Instagram and has now developed into something extremely beneficial, which could get even bigger!
The duo have so far raised over £10,000 – with the aim of raising £1m – and anyone who donates via donatetonhs.com has the opportunity to request where they want the equipment to be delivered.
Yesterday, the players personally handed out over 5,000 PPE masks to key workers across Nottingham and Derby, and Johnson is keen for the public to show their support.
“I’ve known Dexter for many years now and he’s opened up his own business, MediConnect, and he’s in the pharmacy world now,” said Johnson.
“We speak to each other quite a bit and since the lockdown happened, there was lots of challenges going round on Instagram, where people do 10 kick-ups and donate £10 to charity or something like that, and I got tagged in one of them by one of my football friends, so I did the challenge and then I tagged Dexter in it.
“Dexter then phoned me up, as he often does, and we spoke about that and then he mentioned that we should do something ourselves, so that’s how it came about.
“We spoke about it and we agreed that instead of donating something to one of these big charities, why don’t we open up our own thing and help out locally – the local care homes, hospices and places around here.
“So from that little idea over the phone, we then set up a website and through Dexter’s links in the pharmacy world, he could get supplies direct from wholesalers and we could distribute them out. So we ordered 10,000 masks ourselves, which we got quite quickly, and it went from there really.
“We opened up the webpage, where people can donate, and we wanted everything to be transparent, so everyone who donates can see where their proceeds are going. When we start putting more orders in, we’ll put out how much we’ve ordered, just so people know where their money is going. And then the final part is delivering them to the places that people want them to go to, as well as our local hospices and care homes.”
Whilst admitting that the major hospitals across the country are facing the biggest challenge in fighting the virus, Johnson was keen to make sure that local care homes and hospices weren’t forgotten about. But he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of helping hospitals in the future.
“Rightly so, the NHS need every little bit of help they can get and most people are helping out the big hospitals, but the smaller hospices and care homes get over-looked because of how big the problem is,” he added.
“So we’re just trying to keep everything going and trying to help out the little care homes and hospices at the moment, but you never know where this can take us. If we can help the big hospitals then I’m sure Dexter can sort something out.”
Johnson has seen first-hand how appreciative the frontline staff have been when the supplies have been delivered, but he is remaining very humble about the part he is playing in tackling the pandemic.
“From the minute we put up the first post, the feedback that we’ve had, not just from hospices and care homes, but also just from normal people, saying well done and how good a thing it is that we’re doing, has been really good,” added the 32-year-old.
“It’s good to help out. We’ve got a lot of time on our hands now that we’re in lockdown, so if we can help anyone then we want to do that. It’s good to know that you can make a difference and help these people in need at the moment.
“We’re not trying to make money out of this. We just want to help people. We’re not trying to rule the world or be the biggest charity out there, because I know a lot of people are doing a lot of differing things for charity and it’s all good, so we just want to help by doing our little bit.”