Almost 1,000 local children will benefit from free meals this Christmas thanks to the efforts of Blackburn Rovers.
With many families falling on hard times due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the club is working in partnership with Sodexo, Blackburn Rovers Community Trust and the local authority to ensure households have peace of mind this Christmas by helping those who need it to have food on their table.
A total of 907 children in the Borough will be warm and well-fed this winter thanks to the football club’s festive family initiative, which aims to tackle the alarming statistic that Blackburn with Darwen have the sixth highest rate of child hunger in the country.
Players and staff from the club and Community Trust will volunteer their time and make a financial contribution to the cause, which will see over 600 food parcels prepared at Ewood Park ready for collection and delivery later this month.
The boxes, which have been provided by The Cardboard Box Company, will be packed with all the traditional trimmings, and some treats, to ensure families across the Borough can enjoy a substantial two-course meal this Christmas.
The warm-hearted gesture is a continuation of the club’s #OneRoversTogether campaign, which was launched earlier this year to offer help and support for those most vulnerable and in need during this difficult time via a variety of important initiatives.
Rovers Director Mike Cheston said: “This is a real team effort, with everyone at the club – players, staff and management – getting behind it, in terms of financial donations and helping to prepare the food parcels.
“It is a fantastic joint initiative between the club, the Community Trust, Sodexo, Blackburn with Darwen Council and The Cardboard Box Company, and it is amazing what can be achieved when organisations like this come together. It demonstrates what the club can do for the local community at a time when people really need our support.”
Gary Robinson, CEO of Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, said: “As Rovers' official charity, we are delighted to be working in partnership with the football club, Sodexo and Blackburn with Darwen Council on this much needed Christmas initiative.
“We hope that the hampers bring a little bit of festive spirit and cheer to those that may find themselves in difficult circumstances at this time of year and we'd like to wish them all a very merry and happy Christmas.”
Jason Harvey, Catering Services Director at Sodexo, said: “Sodexo is proud to support Blackburn Rovers to try to make sure no child goes hungry this Christmas, particularly with the economic impact we have seen due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our brilliant volunteers are on-hand over the Christmas period to cook food and make the food parcels and we hope this makes a real difference in the local community.”
Julie Gunn, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “This is absolutely wonderful news and will hopefully make Christmas that bit brighter for the families and children in need receiving these food parcels.
“We are working so hard together to tackle this problem, not just in the short term, but in the longer term too. No-one should go hungry in our Borough. Through this important partnership, we hope we can make a difference and make sure everyone has a happy Christmas.”
The club wishes to lead the way in trying to ensure no local child or family goes without food this Christmas and beyond and has so far raised almost £15,000 towards the initiative.
Players and staff at the club have already donated almost £5,000, whilst a further £5,000 has been provided by the Community Trust from funds allocated to them by the Community Foundations for Lancashire and Merseyside. Another £5,000 has also been donated by the Trust from their fundraising efforts throughout the course of this year.
The club is also providing its fanbase with the opportunity to support this fantastic cause by contributing to the following JustGiving page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/brfcchristmasinitiative.
Any donations over and above those needed for the Christmas Day initiative will go towards funding similar projects beyond the festive period and into the New Year.