There's often a lot of doom and gloom in football and the media tends to focus on the negative aspects of the game. So it was nice to learn of the great charity work being done by Newcastle United. The club has backed the West End Food Bank, a community project that helps to feed struggling families in the city.
West End Food Bank was founded by Michael Nixon and Steve Metcalfe in 2013. It has continued to gather support over the years and is estimated to have helped to feed over 40,000 people in 2016. With roughly £10,000 worth of food items handed out to around 1,000 per week, it is now considered to be the busiest food bank in the United Kingdom.
With the help of Newcastle United, the food bank has been able to draw in even more support. In April a NUFC fans station was opened in the Grainger Market shopping area of the city. It has proven to be a great success with Newcastle supporters and people of the city flocking regularly to make donations. There has also been an uptake in volunteers, many of whom have created hand-made gifts to raise further proceeds.
With football fans keen to help the cause, a match day collection point is now situated outside St James' Park for every home fixture. Just last month Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez was kind enough to hand over a cheque for £300 ahead of the Magpies 2-1 victory over Stoke City. On top of this, the fans contributed an additional £1,100 and donated over 350Kg of food. Some Newcastle players have also shown their support, with Isaac Hayden recently taking the time to hand out food on the West Road.
Before the international break, Newcastle played host to Liverpool in an eagerly anticipated encounter that had punters taking to different matched betting exchanges to back their instincts. Ahead of the big game, the Liverpool supporters group 'Spirit of Shankly' had appealed to it's followers to give generously and they didn't disappoint. The traveling Liverpool fans that had heard about the project donated two trolley loads of food and also made cash donations. In total over half a tonne of food was received and more than £1,500 raised by both sets of fans.
With similar initiatives being run by a number of clubs up and down the country, there's an opportunity for fans to show some charity when visiting their local football league ground. I'll certainly be looking out for the donation station at St James' park on my next visit to the North-East and urge any fellow ground-hoppers to do the same.