Port Vale have delivered hundreds of food and care packages in their first full week as a community hub during the coronavirus crisis.
The club, its Foundation Trust, the Synectics Solutions and Summit Hospitality businesses also owned by Kevin and Carol Shanahan, and the Hubb Foundation, of which Carol is a founder and trustee, are combining their efforts to help people in the north of the city.
Vale owner Carol Shanahan said they are learning and reacting to the situation all the time but she is pleased with how the efforts have come together so far.
She explained: “What has pleased me so much is how all of the organisations have worked together so well. It is like one group. We have a morning meeting and we are all as one.
“The second thing that has really pleased me is the support we have had for things like our food collection. So, there is a food bin by the Sproson Statue outside Vale Park and people can just drive past and put food in and then drive off.
“We had to empty it twice yesterday, but we still need more.”
“We are working very closely with the council in helping them and families they know. So, everybody we take food to has been referred to us. That’s either by the council, or maybe a Vale fan, or it might be from another voluntary organisation in the city.”
Food is also being paid for by donations, including from the Synectics Charity Fund. Money that is donated for this effort either through Vale, the Foundation Trust, Synectics or the Hubb Foundation, will be ring-fenced for this purpose.
Carol said a busy Friday was a good snapshot of the activity for staff and volunteers. She said: “We had some fresh fruit and veg come in and they spent the morning packing food parcels up and sending them out. So, we have people from the Port Vale Foundation and other staff going and delivering them.
“We put out a call to the Synectics staff to say, if there is anyone not fully working on Synectics stuff now, do they want to volunteer? We had 60 people.”
Barry our exec chef and Emma, one of our chefs, have been busy working in our kitchens. They are busy cooking food that goes in the freezer, meals ready to go out.
“At the same time, every morning we ask how Port Vale, the Hubb Foundation and Synectics are, keeping our eye on the core businesses as well.”
Carol says they will continue working closely with the city council as the council’s plans develop.
She added: “They have changed a little bit in how they want to do things, and I think what they have come up with is a lot more streamlined. So, that will kick in, in the next week or so, on delivering lots of food parcels.
“We won’t do the bulk of them but we will be very much be working alongside them.”
Staff at Vale Park are also making and taking phone calls to identify more people who can be helped.
She added: “I am just witnessing this cooperation and collaboration all over Stoke-on-Trent. It has always been quite a close-knit community but never working together to the extent it is now.
“A football club is more than football. That is what this is about. It is just stepping up to the plate when the community needs it.”