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At the end of the 2018/19 season, in a meeting at Turf Moor, I spoke about supporters’ groups at other clubs running food collections for their local foodbanks and suggested it might be something we could get involved with.

“Do it,” said then Burnley FC in the Community CEO Neil Hart, who explained that, unlike those other clubs, the foodbank we might collect for was run by his community through the Burnley Community Kitchen in the market square in town.

I, and colleagues within the supporters’ groups, met with the Kitchen manager Anita Orchard and the community’s deputy CEO Paul France, himself a former Claret from the early 1990s, and it was all systems go, kicking off at the second home game of the season against Liverpool when our visitors added to the day with some fantastic donations.

Only the pandemic and some hesitation from the club following the return have stopped us, and, whatever the weather, there have been supporters outside the ground at all afternoon games, this despite little to no support from the club and dwindling support from the community team.

Back in 2019, I’d been inspired by supporters at Everton and Liverpool who had worked together to provide a wonderful service in their city, and to Jim Chisem (Huddersfield) who led a team at his club to help two local foodbanks. I remain indebted to Dave Kelly (Everton) and Ian Byrne (Liverpool) for their guidance and support.

It’s good to know too that we have inspired others to follow on the work and collections are held at so many grounds now it’s heart warming to see yet heart breaking when understanding the need.

Some time ago, Up the Clarets message board poster Kingsleyclaret contacted me for some information on what we do, how we do it, and said he was keen to see something similar at his now local club of Perth Glory in Western Australia, where he has lived for the past ten years.

Those of us who are involved at Burnley, and I’m sure those involved at every other club who operate a foodbank collection, will be delighted to hear that the cause has been taken up on the other side of the world.

Kingsleyclaret takes up the story that led to the weekend just gone.

“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can.”

I’ve had this quotation from George Bernard Shaw on my wall at work for some time. It’s a blunt reminder that doing the right thing isn’t always easy and there’ll be negativity sometimes but the outcome, helping others, is worthwhile.

I follow my club through UptheClarets, it’s both an essential lifeline to back home and at times, a source of inspiration. Living in Perth, Western Australia for the last 10 years, clicking in every morning and a few times during the day is second nature.

Some time ago, I saw the food bank initiative, ‘Clarets for Foodbanks’ and thought that if I was still in the UK, it’s such a great cause, that I would support it and do a stint collecting. I take my hat off to the West Yorkshire Clarets, the Accy Clarets and the many other Clarets who are prepared to get up and do something, to put the needs of others who are having it tough above themselves and be that force of nature that makes a difference.

It’s your efforts that prompted the idea to reach out to Foodbank WA and to the local A League team, Perth Glory and follow the lead of Burnley fans who care about the appalling situation where so many people rely on Foodbank for the basic necessities that many of us are fortunate enough to take for granted.

Foodbank WA and Perth Glory jumped at the opportunity to work in collaboration. They recognise the desperate need in the community and the impact that they can collectively achieve for the community. Football after all is a game rooted in the local community.

On Saturday 1 April, Perth Glory hosted MacArthur FC in their final game at Macedonia Park before returning to their refurbished, usual home ground at HBF Park. The game is the first in Australia with ‘Footy fans for Foodbank’ in operation. Maybe it will inspire others to follow, just as ‘Clarets for Foodbanks’ inspired us.

I spoke to one of Foodbank’s volunteers tonight before the game. She also relies on Foodbank to feed herself and her son and has done for the last year. She never expected to be trapped in food poverty through no fault of her own. There’s nothing like a cold, hard dose of reality to put things in perspective.

To the Burnley fans who volunteer across the season, thank you for taking on a mighty purpose, for doing something for the community and for inspiring others to follow suit.

(Formerly Covclaret, now Kingsleyclaret)

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