What a difference a year makes.
Six words to define 2020 amid the huge challenges and sadness of losing so many people across the world to the Covid-19 pandemic.
For the Wolves Foundation, it has been, like so many other charities, a case of needing to be flexible and adapt its services.
The ethos of Wolves’ official charity to serve the local community is one which has never changed and so, it was up to the Foundation to find the ways and means to continue to do so in the wake of so many understandable restrictions placed on day-to-day life.
For a Foundation which thrives upon face-to-face contact and interaction with participants of all ages and abilities, it was undoubtedly a considerable challenge.
But it was one which staff rose to without exception, not least as in many cases there was a need and an importance for the Foundation’s projects – even in a different form – more than ever.
“This time last year, heading into 2020, no one could ever have predicted what lay ahead and just how challenging a time it was going to be,” says Will Clowes, Head of Wolves Foundation.
“As it became clear just how much of a public health crisis was developing with the Covid-19 pandemic, the challenge for us as a Foundation – and for staff from all departments – was how we were going to be there for the community across such a wide range of projects.
“The need for our activities and services had not gone away – in some areas it had increased – and it was all about adapting and being creative to continue to deliver our projects in a Covid-secure way.
“We’re very grateful for the support we’ve received from partners, funders and supporters, particularly the Premier League, and I am hugely proud of how each and every one of the Foundation staff responded.
“From adapting their normal activities to go online, from volunteering to help the NHS or local elderly residents, from all the work put in when we were able to deliver outdoors, and for maintaining the highest of standards when faced with unprecedented challenges, their dedication and commitment has been fantastic.
“Above all else, what has shone through during the last ten months has been the sense of pride which they take in their work, and the care that they show for such a wide range of participants accessing Wolves Foundation projects.
“It is a year which none of us would ever wanted to experience, and we know so many people will have really suffered during 2020, but hopefully we have played our own small part to help where we can, and have learned and developed in how we have been able to adapt to support our local community when they have needed us most.”
Prior to lockdown in March, there had already been a couple of major highlights including Head 4 Health participant Dean and the Foundation’s Health & Wellbeing Manager Rachel Smith heading to London to meet HRH Prince William to help launch his ‘Head’s Up’ mental health project in partnership with the FA.
There have also been so much key support provided during such a difficult year, particularly relating to the pandemic with Foundation staff working to help club owners Fosun distribute thousands of items of PPE to help protect staff at local hospitals and care homes.
And Foundation ambassador and former Wolves captain Karl Henry spearheaded a campaign featuring former players and supporters which raised over £50,000 for the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.
There were so many other positive moments amid such an otherwise difficult time.
There were virtual calls featuring Wolves players, phone calls and a Pen Pal scheme for elderly residents, FIFA competitions with PL Kicks participants, fitness and fun activities online, the first ever virtual Foundation Focus Fixture, and the announcement of a string of new ambassadors from the worlds of sport and broadcasting.
There has also been so much more, including a ‘Virtual Sleepout’ which raised a further £14,000 to help people suffering from food poverty, and so much activity around Christmas to support vulnerable youngsters with food and presents.
And, towards the back end of summer, several of the Foundation’s outdoor activities were able to return for a time, in keeping with restrictions, offering a flavour of what life will hopefully be like once again in the future.
“We know there are still challenges ahead, and that the pandemic is not over, but we will continue to be there and do everything we can for the community heading into 2021 when we all really hope that the situation will improve,” adds Will.
“In the meantime, from everyone connected with Wolves Foundation, I would like to wish you all a happy and healthy New Year, and say a huge thank for your ongoing support.”
— to www.wolves.co.uk