MCFC Fans Foodbank Support was set up on New Year’s Day, 2020. Beginning with collections at home games, the group was set up to help supply the foodbanks in the Greater Manchester area. Following a continuous increase over the last decade, foodbank usage rocketed throughout the country during the pandemic.
The Trussell Trust reported that their UK network had distributed a staggering 2.5 million emergency parcels from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, an increase of 33% on the previous year [https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/end-year-stats/]. A report commissioned by the United Nations in 2019 cites figures which show 14 million people in the UK live in poverty, alongside rising levels of homelessness against a backdrop of severe cuts to public spending [https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48354692].
With collecting at games no longer a feasible option during the pandemic, the MCFC Fans Foodbank Support Group has turned to online donations as the primary source of helping those who need it most. The group has worked in unison with the MUFC Fans’ Foodbank support to set up a donation page which to date has raised more than £50,000 for the 19 Trussell Trust foodbanks in the Greater Manchester area.
To raise money, there have been 24-hour charity podcasts in conjunction with the 93:20 team, help from the official supporters’ groups, a fans’ Manchester Derby held in Melbourne, a Discord community getting together to walk hundreds of miles, and City fans volunteering to drive for foodbanks.
The latest project to help raise money for the foodbank support group has come in the form of a creative sticker project. Shaun Campbell, City fan and graphic artist, organised the creation of a Panini-inspired album which allowed fifty-two artists to design a sticker for the players of both the Men’s and Women’s football teams. Each artist was asked to donate a small fee to the charity in exchange for the opportunity to immortalise their work in this wonderful album, meaning the project has raised more than £600 for the charity. It has involved designs from across the world, including artists from: Britain, the Philippines, Jordan, Palestine, Mexico, the United States, Poland, Spain, Australia, India and Indonesia. On the project, Shaun says:
"The sticker project was a half idea I had back in February, after participating in Dave Will's 'MIFA 2020' project [https://davewilldesign.com/mifa-2020], where artists would design individual artworks to fill out the Premier League 2020 sticker album. I enjoyed it so much, as a participant and spectator of its progress, it raised over £3000 for the Fans supporting Foodbanks charity group.
I didn't manage to secure myself a current Manchester City player's sticker for the MIFA 2020 project so I thought if I created my own project then I would have free reign. Since MIFA supported such a great cause I wanted to do the same. The MCFC Fans Foodbank Support group seemed a perfect fit, as I knew the group members and how hard they work. I asked how I could use a potential project like this to help them out. They directed me to their ongoing fundraiser and it was the perfect reason to really try and get this project to work.
Due to my sporadic activity on my design social media, I honestly thought I’d struggle to fill out the men’s team alone, but decided we absolutely should try to have MCWFC as part of the project due to their support of MCFC Fans Foodbank in the past by promoting matchday collections.
Within 3 days of asking around and the project being promoted through social media, the majority of the player list was full. I had participants from all levels of the industry and outside of it with other unique artistic talents. I’m still blown away at the response and how fast this took off. I thought I’d have to drop the idea within a few days. But here we are 3 months later with fifty-two unique entries raising a fee large enough to put the Foodbank’s fundraiser over its donation goal.
I’m so happy with the quality, the variety and the generosity of every single person involved in this. I can’t thank everyone enough. This project has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. We have people who support a variety of clubs across the entire world coming together to support the people who need it most in and around Manchester. I think everyone involved should be proud of themselves, and I personally hope we can do this again in the near future."
Every single sticker is impressive and creatively represents the player depicted, demonstrating the imaginative capacities of the artists who contributed. The album includes an embroidered Aoife Mannion, sewn by Zahrah Haider, Gabriel Jesus as Rio’s Christ the Redeemer drawn by Alex Walch, a multi-colour Chloe Kelly designed by ManCityWomenFancast and a mixed media John Stones by Nicola Unsworth.
The money raised from the project will go a long way to help those that are desperately in need around the city, as well as engaging a wider community of football fans to the causes that matter most. MCFC Fans Foodbank is part of a wider group of fan action around the country, including not only City and United fans but several clubs across the country following Liverpool and Everton’s lead in 2015, when they created Fans Supporting Foodbanks initiative, with the motto “Hunger doesn’t wear club colours”. [https://www.facebook.com/FansSupportingFooddbanks/]
While matchday collections will return for the beginning of the 2021/22 season by the Etihad, donations are still open. As MCFC Fans Foodbank member Alex Timperley has outlined, just £5 can feed someone for a week, and £20 can feed a family for a week. This demonstrates how any money donated can offer a big help, and how football communities have helped the distribution of food to those who need it most. We have seen how Marcus Rashford has more than once fought to change policy in regards to government food parcels and free school meals through the holidays. [https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-55670096] In light of the Premier League’s pay-per-view scheme, fan groups suggested the £14.95 price fans were asked to watch games that were not scheduled to be live should instead be donated to the foodbank schemes before the PPV scheme was retired after ‘hearing the feedback of fans’ [https://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/premier-league-fans-pay-per-view-boycott-charity-food-bank-fundraising]. City and United have each donated £50,000 to local food banks [https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-51987953]. One of the original founders of the Fans Supporting Foodbank project, Ian Byrne, is now the Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby and is championing the Right to Food project to be enshrined into law, which would see access to food to be a legal right for all [https://www.ianbyrne.org/righttofood-campaign]. The motion has been backed by both Greater Manchester and Liverpool city councils, alongside several other cities and towns across the country.
As Foodbanks across the country continue to struggle under the weight of the need, groups like MCFC Fans Foodbank and their associated initiatives demonstrate the powerful potential that football clubs and their fans have when helping their communities. The thousands of pounds raised by the group has already fed thousands of people in the area and will continue to do so.
If you can, please donate to this vital cause here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/mufc-mcfc-fans-supporting-foodbanks.
If you can donate food or essential non-food items, the contents of a typical parcel can be found on the Trussell Trust website [https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/emergency-food/food-parcel/], while individual foodbanks update what they need, and what they have plenty of, on their individual websites.
Written by @anthonychapman_