Port Vale’s owners are turning the club into a community hub during the coronavirus crisis.
Vale Park will become the centre of a coordinated effort, using the kitchens to provide meals, helping schools and children and supporting vulnerable people and workers who have lost their jobs.
Club owner Carol Shanahan said the Vale will be at the heart of a combined effort between the football club, the Vale Foundation Trust, the Synectics Solutions and Summit Hospitality businesses also owned by her and her husband Kevin, and the Hubb Foundation charity, of which she is founder and a trustee.
Carol said: “We have been looking for is gaps in provision and how we can offer support to people using all of our experience and our resource.
“We have three production kitchens that we can use to produce food, we also have a lot of staff we can redeploy to help with this.
“So, whether it is for kids coming in to pick up their food for pre-school meals, or us delivering food. Or, helping because we have contacts with the activity providers through the city, so helping schools who have the key workers’ kids in schools. It’s how can we help them with their numbers.”
Carol says Port Vale must play a major role in helping the community.
She said: “It is the right thing to do – that’s it.
“This is an unprecedented situation and we all have to be there for each other. There is so much fear and anxiety on top of the practical problems of getting food, as well as losing your job.
“It is really important to do this from the beginning.
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“This isn’t what I expected from my first season owning the club. I didn’t expect the community to need Port Vale as much as it does as early as it does. But it is just a case of being there when it happens. That is what we are looking to do.”
The club’s vice chair Kate Beardmore and former Vale player Adam Yates, of the Hubb Foundation, have been speaking to the city council, churches, schools and charities this week to put together the new hub.
Meanwhile, Tom Sherratt, head of community at Vale, and Claire Halket, the club’s chief operating officer, will be running the operational side of the effort.
The club has already set up a food-bank donation point outside main reception and been delivering care packages.
They will be promoting local businesses who are providing help for the community and also job offers at supermarkets and other employers.
Meanwhile, manager John Askey and his players will be launching a skills challenge online for youngsters
Kate Beardmore said: “Port Vale is a family and in a time like this we all need to be there for each other. I think the football club plays a huge role. That is so important.”