Guiseley AFC Community Foundation had to rapidly adapt their way of working as schools and elderly partners had to close their doors due to COVID.
They decided to go out into the community and offer help where it was needed, and it quickly became apparent that this help should predominantly be with the elderly and disabled in the local area as these were the people that were the most isolated due to shielding and had little or no access to technology.
They worked closely with Aireborough Children’s Centre and Memory Lane Day Care for those with Dementia, local primary schools and Kangaroo Nursery. Morrisons Guiseley and Fareshare also helped by donating food and provided support to staff where they could. Food bank collections were held at the Club and were distributed to those most in need, with a large food bank at Yeadon Westfield Junior School being held prior to Christmas 2020.
Staff members, Connor Thompson and Alison Leigh, worked closely with partner Aireborough Children’s Centre who were inundated with requests for food and hygiene parcels, as some residents were unable to shop during the lockdown. Connor collected the food from local supermarkets, assisted in making the parcels and then delivered them throughout the local area. Alison shopped for older people and those with disabilities. Connor also began a pharmacy collection and delivery, helping to ensure people had access to their medication. As the pandemic continued, Connor also helped with gardening and doorstep deliveries provided to those most isolated. Alison Leigh developed a local paper round which grew very quickly. She also made weekly welfare telephone calls and set up a pen pal scheme between local primary schools and isolated individuals.
They also provided a support service to relatives of the older people they were helping, as some lived a distance from their family members and visits were impossible during lockdown. Alison ensured that relatives had her phone number and could contact her if they had concerns about family members.
Coaches developed online sessions, video and gaming competitions so that children could still enjoy sport remotely. Arts and crafts packs, books and games were delivered to children in isolation, and they created activities to download, such as colouring templates for younger children.
A couple who benefited, Mr & Mrs B, said: “I cannot thank the Foundation enough for the help with food shopping and our daily newspaper delivery. It was very hard not being able to pop out to the shop and be beholden to other
people while we were shielding but just knowing that we would be looked after and visited daily helped us through a very hard situation”
Mick Glossop, Chairman of Guiseley AFC Supporters’ Club and Foundation Trustee said: “The Foundation have become a cornerstone of the Football Club and the local community, and this was reinforced during the pan where they really stepped up to the plate and made bonds within the community, some of whom were not necessarily football supporters, and these bonds will never be broken. This to me is what community work is all about, serving and helping everyone who needed this help. The excellent work done and still being done daily is appreciated by the local community and those who benefit, and this is expressed via social media from a variety of sources every day. We are really proud of the Foundations work”