Together, as a grassroots club at the heart of the community, the Stalybridge Celtic Juniors family came together like never before to provide 1,073 free school meals to families who needed them this half term. All done through donations, volunteers, and hard work.
‘Little did we know last Friday night when Celtic Juniors coach Craig Rawson asked if the club could do something to answer Marcus Rashford’s #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY campaign, that a week later we would have had a response none of us could ever have imagined. It’s been a week of tears and heartbreak meeting and hearing the stories of families who are having a hard time, and a week of joy and heartwarming moments seeing so many friends of the Juniors support the project with donations, giving their time, and helping spread the word.‘ Stalybridge Celtic Juniors Chairman Mike Taylor.
This project went beyond just opening the club’s doors. To get the meals into the hands of the kids who needed them most, the club partnered with community leaders with direct links to families who are struggling to deliver the lunches to them at home. For children who receive free school meals council support came too late. And for many, zero-hours contracts, being self-employed, or reduced shifts at work meant they fell through the cracks of government help.
After putting the call for help with the project out on Friday night, donations and offers to volunteer flooded into the Soccer School on Saturday morning. Local businesses also helped, Tesco Stalybridge provided fresh fruit every day, donations were received from Rawco Enviromental, Elite Trading Group, Majestic Barbers, and donations also came from from Stalybridge and Dukinfield Rotary Club, Stalybridge North Labour and Stalybridge Celtic Academy. Thanks also to the community leaders who helped deliver as many meals as possible – Sandwich Angels, Terry Drabble at Carrbrook Hub, Steven Barton at Bartys Foodbank, and Sarah Gibbons-Wardle.
Thank you everyone who has helped by donating, volunteering, and spreading the word. This simply wouldn’t have been possible without you. We hope we don’t ever need to do this again, but if we do, we know that together we can do it.
Words | Liam Whitehead