Dozens of regular sessions were no longer able to take place, but the thousands of people the charity works with each year here in Sussex still needed that often vital support. In many cases, it was needed more than ever.
With paid for sessions like after-school clubs – sessions which help fund the charity’s wider work – and fundraising events all cancelled, Albion in the Community faced the additional challenge of seeing a significant drop in income, almost overnight.
For a charity which invests around £3 million a year in its local projects and which generates almost half of that money through fundraising and sessions people pay to take part in, such as its popular Brighton & Hove Albion Soccer Schools, the situation was certainly a serious one.
With all that in mind, then, it was a real boost to everyone connected with the charity to receive such generous support from the Albion As One fund.
Launched by the club’s Premier League squad who, along with club directors, kick-started the appeal with a combined donation of more than £260,000, the Albion As One fund has been helping charities across Sussex cope with the additional demand for services and lost income experienced during the pandemic.
That total has now topped more than £370,000 following further donations from Seagulls fans.
At the launch of Albion As One, it was decided by the players that 20% of the total raised would be set aside for Albion in the Community – a cause close to many of their hearts and one which they already generously support each season with player visits and donated signed merchandise which the charity then auctions to generate funds.
The money received via the Albion As One fund has helped pay for the targeted support provided by Albion in the Community to local people throughout the last few months and enable the charity to successfully shift much of its delivery and the support it offers online.
Dozens of football and physical activity sessions have taken place on Zoom, further education classes have been delivered online rather than in the classroom, and staff have been checking in with participants to provide vital support.
The charity has also produced a range of learning resources and free downloads for families to use during lockdown, while 12,500 free meals were delivered to vulnerable local people in just eight weeks.
Mark Barkaway, who heads up Albion in the Community’s fundraising, was clear how much the support received via the Albion As One fund had meant to the charity.
He said: “This has been an incredibly tough time, with demand for support increasing but income dropping off significantly.
“Receiving the support from the Albion As One fund has had a huge impact on the charity and helped us continue to provide front line workers to support local people here in Sussex.
“Our thanks go to everyone who has contributed so generously to the campaign.”