Gateshead Football Club Foundation

At the outset of Covid-19 the Foundation setup the Heed at Home service to help supporters and vulnerable people cope during the difficult time. With people self-isolating and missing daily contact with others the Foundation felt that a telephone call would be a great way to stay in-touch and raise people’s spirits.  Fans could email, text or call to book an appointment to chat to a member of the Foundation about all things Heed or anything else on their mind.

During the period the Foundation made over seventy calls to both supporters and non-supporters of the Club up and down the country, covering all ages and gender. Conversations ranged from favourite players, past managers, matches including the Wembley game as well as the problems the previous year when the Club had almost gone out of existence. The Foundation also hosted a live online quiz in conjunction with Heed at Home to bring the fans together in isolation.

In one case a call was made to a ground-hopping football fan from Wales, whose friend had contacted the Heed as the person was struggling with isolation and mental health issues. Ben Clark, the Foundation’s community sports officer (former Gateshead player, captain and manager) had a long chat with the fan discussing the grounds Ben had played at – which the fan had visited over many years.

Ben also had several calls with Inspired Support members, an organisation that supports people with Autism Spectrum Conditions and Learning Disabilities. They discussed all things Gateshead FC and included mental health exercises.

Alan Weddle Chair of the Foundation said “This initiative has helped keep communication going with vulnerable football fans. This has been an essential lifeline for people at a time when football was not being played and staff were furloughed meaning that there was little or no football news reported.

Heed at Home has been so successful that as lockdown has eased, we are still continuing the service for those who need it.”

The Foundation also joined with an umbrella group known as Best of Bensham Collaborative to provide COVID-19 compliant weekly football training sessions during the school holidays for children. 14 children attended the sessions and were provided with a meal at the end of each of their sessions by Best of Bensham staff.

The Collaborative are a team of charities and organisations working together to support residents in the Bensham area of Gateshead, helping to improve their lives and to feel happier and safer in the neighbourhood.

Joanne Watson from Best of Bensham said “Thank you for making all the football sessions so enjoyable. The kids have really had fun”.