CORONAVIRUS has had a huge impact on so many people — especially those involved in organisations designed to help the elderly and vulnerable.
And as someone with their own charity and foundation, this is an incredibly difficult time.
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My foundation was set up to directly support the Alan Shearer Centre, which is based in my home town of Newcastle.
The centre offers highly specialist, residential respite and social support for people with complex disabilities and acute sensory impairments.
Now the thousands of people and kids who use it every week for different reasons cannot any more because of the spread of this virus.
The activity centre and short break centre are both shut down but we do have six residents living and being cared for in the residential home.
Unlike some of the members of the centre and guests at the short break centre, these people are reliant on care.
They have serious issues that have to be tended to and need looking after.
Fortunately, those six people at different times of the day can use the therapy swimming pool and sensory rooms.
For obvious reasons, they cannot go in with other patients.
The activity centre has become even more essential to the residents following the Stay Safe, Stay Home policy — as it is the only chance to get stimulation out of the residential home.
Family visits are no longer permitted on Government advice, to protect those most vulnerable.
But to ensure families have their hugely important contact time with loved ones they can have video chats with them. I just want to mention a huge thanks to the staff who continue to support the people at the centre and charity as a whole.
I asked the other day and found out there are 23 staff needed to support the six residents.
Without these staff, the charity and foundation are nothing — and they are this committed and this amazing all year round. For the six people to live up there, it is their life and the carers are keeping them going.
They have been unbelievably devoted and are the same every single day. They are heroes.
Since our launch, we have raised £3.73million.
But we do rely on raising £250,000 a year to continue this amazing work, which also allows members to use the centre free of charge.
We usually get the money through fundraising ventures and auctions at annual events, including a gala ball and golf day.
Recently, we have been unable to fulfil the commitment of some auction prizes because of the coronavirus pandemic.
That has meant we have had to give some money back that has been pledged.
But we have also seen a lot of generosity from so many people who have, when able to, told us to simply postpone the auction prize to a later date.
It means they ensure the money pledged stays with the foundation.
It is a very difficult time for so many people involved in charities, and it is a worrying time for so many of the patients and the beneficiaries of them
Not to mention the individuals who work there and the families involved.
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It is horrible to think that for some organisations, this crisis could seriously threaten their ability to continue helping those who need it most.
I just think back to the other evening when you opened the front door and heard people clapping down the street.
Judging by what we have seen on the TV, radio and social media, that was all over the country.
It was a small gesture to say thank you to all those who are putting their own lives at risk and are on the frontline.
But there is still the worry that this virus could impede the ability to provide the help and support that so many need.
It is so important the Premier League continue to do their bit in the community and encourage individuals to do the same.
Whether that’s pledging money or doing work with their own foundations and charities, or giving up their time to deliver essentials and food to vulnerable people.
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That’s not only football though — that’s the whole country.
With Gareth Southgate’s letter last week and now Jurgen Klopp’s message, as well as all the good work football clubs are doing in their own communities, there seems to be a lot of amazing gestures at this difficult time.
It makes you proud to be a part not only of this sport, but of the thousands of communities across the country trying to make a difference.