Carlisle United’s support to help a local project to provide food for the homeless and for vulnerable families is now into its third week, with over £1,500 worth of supplies already donated by United’s first team squad.
The players, under the guidance of club captain Nick Anderton, have each brought £20 worth of food to a central collection point each Monday morning and club chaplain Alun Jones has then taken over to ferry the items to some of those who need it most.
Captain Nick Anderton said: “Seeing how much food we’ve managed to bring together is something we look forward to every week now.
“The thing is that we know we’re helping Alun to help vulnerable people, with some very young children as part of that in many cases, and that’s something we all want to do.
“I think I said a couple of weeks ago that when Alun spoke to us about how many people were struggling at the moment, with families having to choose between heating, light or feeding themselves, it really did open our eyes.
“We know this isn’t going to solve the problem, but if we’re helping, even in a small way, then we’ll continue to do our bit.”
Alun Jones said: “The food donated so generously by the players has been used to put together food bags to be delivered to vulnerable families around Currock and Upperby.
“It’s also been used to put food parcels together for very young families who are struggling and who go to Carlisle Key, another excellent local charity.
“In addition we use some of it to make hot food every morning for the homeless and, it’s very sad to have to report, that is actually a growing community.
“We’re seeing new people coming along to that project all the time, and we met two men the other day who came to us after they’d spent the previous night sleeping in bushes and under trees.
“They were given food to take away with them and a tent, along with some sleeping bags. These are some of the real situations that Carlisle United’s players are helping us to tackle and support.”
“Unfortunately poverty is a real thing and we literally do have people sitting in the dark, with no heating and a minimal amount of food in their kitchens,” he continued. “I know from speaking to the players that we all feel that it’s a privilege for us to be able to help these people, and to let them know there is somewhere they can go if they really are at what they feel is breaking point.
“It’s heart breaking, and I think that heart break comes from the fact that the psychological and social wellbeing of the people I’m seeing really is being affected adversely by this pandemic.
“The longer it goes on the more a trauma factor is being added, because the struggle to feed themselves and their children just goes on and on for them. That’s why the beacon of hope we give them by delivering this food is so important.
“There’s a genuine feeling of gratefulness and I can see that reflected in their eyes. As a parish priest all I keep thinking is that they should have food in their home, it’s a basic human right, but through no fault of their own they’re going through this terrible experience.
“So many people are somehow falling through the system and they’ve been let down, in my opinion. That’s why it’s a privilege for me as the chairman of the homeless food project to be able to work with Carlisle United on this because it’s probably the worst situation this country has faced collectively since the Second World War.
“It really is making things better for so many people who would otherwise be going through a horrible situation. The amount of food the players are donating is enormous and it’s having a very real impact in terms of lifting morale and giving people real hope.”
Director of football David Holdsworth said: “The players have been magnificent, and I think that’s because they know how important the work Alun and his team are doing is to so many people.
“Alun has mentioned previously that there can be over 100 people who use his programme, and then there are the families he goes out to visit and who are really struggling to consider on top of that.
“It really is a great example of how a simple idea can grow legs and turn into something that matters and makes a real impact. Well done once again to the players, and to Alun for making it all come together.”