How FC Tackled Loneliness Through Lockdown

Find out more about how Hull FC helped tackle loneliness throughout the Coronavirus lockdown.

As many followers of Hull FC know, the club’s commitment to supporting the local community during times of need is unparalleled. When the Covid-19 lockdown was enforced in March, the day to day work of the club’s independent charitable arm, the Hull FC Community Foundation, came to a halt.

What replaced it was a commitment to deliver a range of new, accessible services that supported those most vulnerable and affected by Covid-19, including delivering food parcels and basic supplies to families and older people and providing online services that helped keep people physically active and mentally resilient. Supported by donations from a range of partners, including national homeless charity ‘Crisis’, over 1,000 people accessed Foundation services during the lockdown month.

“A key objective within our work even before lockdown was on how we could use rugby league as a catalyst to engage with those in community who were facing challenges. The work we have done in recent years within the ‘Teaming Up for Health Partnership’ alongside local NHS partners has been crucial to that’”,  commented the Foundation’s Head of Community, James Price.

“A large number of our community participants came to our services initially because they were struggling with loneliness and social isolation, and our aim was to engage them in positive activity that boosted social connections and promote healthy lifestyles. When lockdown came, we knew supporting these participants would be crucial as their challenges were likely to be exacerbated, as well as offering broader support to the local community. We wouldn’t have got through the last six months had it not been for our brilliant staff and volunteers.”

Examples of Hull FC Community Foundation’s support over the period include:

  • Community Officer Liam Welham delivering food for people aged over 60, in residential homes, low income families, and those recently made redundant. Liam said ‘“I obviously wear the Hull FC badge when I’m out and about because it’s just about letting them know that the club is always here to help, and having a familiar name like that coming to their door can really bring a smile to their face, particularly if they’re supporters. Read more about Liam’s work here:
  • Providing one to one online mentoring to young adults with a disability through our ‘This Ability’ partnership. Participants were given bite sized challenges throughout the week which were regularly monitored for progress to ensure they were not lonely or lost motivation during a very difficult period. The bite sized challenges included watching old footage from various sports and creating stats sheets, identifying sponsors and formulating their own opinion on how that sporting team has progressed.
  • Lockdown proved a difficult time for learners engaged at Hull FC College due to their usual vocational outlook on life. Being locked up indoors all day was not a suitable environment for these learners. Through the powers of social media our learners were sent daily physical and mental challenges which gave them a reason to get out of their bedroom and into the garden. All learners had to record their activities and upload them to a social media page. These videos stimulated conversations between the learners and reduced the feeling of being isolated. These challenges allowed learners to improve their understanding of each other as well as developing new friendships.

Ryan Langton the Foundation’s Head of Educated commented, “The Covid-19 Lockdown proved a very difficult period for a group of usually very active young people. To combat these difficulties, we assessed all the support we had access to, the further support we could provide and ensured all learners were aware this support was available. Being able to actively engage and motivate learners through such a difficult time was vitally important to the progression of these learners both academically and physically alongside being able to monitor any changes to their mental health.”

With the effects of Covid-19 expected to remain in society for the short term at least, the Foundation has turned its attention to how it can best support the community to rebuild and adapt to the ‘new norm’. Central to this will be its ‘Tackle It’ programme, an initiative supported by the National Lottery Community Fund which will provide activities specifically aimed to support the communities of Hull through the COVID-19 pandemic. The project hopes to reduce the significant impact the pandemic could potentially have on worsening health inequalities in the area – through loss of work, social isolation, or poor access to key services – and on local people’s physical and mental health.

Read more on ‘Tackle It’ here: