A year on since the UK government enforced the first nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19, the effects of the pandemic continue to be harshly felt across all communities.
We previously looked at the wonderful work that Italian giants Juventus FC have done to bring Italy together over the past 12 months and another club that has struck the right tone with their response has been reigning English Premier League champions Liverpool FC.
The Merseyside club have enjoyed a stellar few years on the pitch with further titles in the UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup, but it’s their work off the field that has once again underlined their commitment to the local region.
As the pandemic initially took hold in the UK, Liverpool FC worked closely with the LFC Foundation – the club’s official charity – and Red Neighbours, its community programme that supports local residents and schools in the Anfield area, to identify social isolation, food poverty, and wellbeing as the three main areas of need in the local community.
Matt Parish, Chief Executive of the LFC Foundation, commented: “As we went into the first lockdown, everything stopped including football on the pitch, so for the club the community work was the one area that was still going in a practical sense.
“Pretty quickly I found myself chairing a weekly Covid community response meeting with all different departments of the club to discuss how to support our communities during this period.
“We feel that we’ve stepped up and supported them as much as possible, but that has been a real club effort and we’ve had around 170 volunteers from across the club.”
After spells working in the community teams at Charlton Athletic and Burnley, Parish has spent the last five years living on Merseyside and joined as head of the Foundation in March 2019, and has more recently been promoted to Chief Executive
Liverpool is renowned for being a city with football at its heart and is something that Parish believes means the club has an increased responsibility to its local community.
“It sounds like a cliché but football is such a key part of the community here, the taxi drivers will often ask you within a minute if you’re a red [Liverpool fan] or a blue [Everton fan].
“There was such joy in the city when they bought the Champions League back, 500,000 people went to that parade and it was a city event. There is a real connection, it’s an international club, but the heart is in north Liverpool.”
The Liverpool FC fans supporters’ groups are very connected to the club and have also played a crucial role in the community work that the LFC Foundation and Red Neighbours programme have done.
“The foodbank connection is a great example,” Parish continued. “When we went to the fans during lockdown and said we’re going to fundraise to support the community, they really stepped up.