Liverpool & Widnes Vikings distribute protective equipment to social care workers

By Andrew AloiaBBC Sport
Widnes Vikings players Jay and Ted Chapelhow
Widnes Vikings players Jay and Ted Chapelhow helped with Monday's distribution of protective equipment

Widnes Vikings players joined staff from Liverpool FC’s Foundation to help distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to social care workers across Merseyside, boosting one charity’s ability to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

While this week the Army has been enlisted to help deliver protective gear to the National Health Service, the two clubs have come together to get items out to Community Integrated Care’s frontline staff.

John Hughes, a director at the charity, said the help was “vitally important”.

“For these two organisations to come in and lend a hand as quickly as they did was fantastic,” Hughes added.

“To have the Liverpool FC Foundation, the official charity of one of the biggest football clubs in our community and world for that matter, and an iconic local rugby league club both turn up to our Merseyside office and help sort and distribute these items was unbelievable.

“The Liverpool FC and Widnes Vikings brands mean so much in these local communities, so to see them showing their support for our charity and the social care sector at this difficult time has given everyone a much-needed boost.”

Liverpool FC Foundation staff deliver equipment
The support from staff at Liverpool FC Foundation and Widnes Vikings was "unbelievable", said CIC director John Hughes

A fresh supply of PPE - including face masks, gloves, hand sanitiser and aprons - arrived at Community Integrated Care’s Liverpool base early on Monday and by midday the charitable Foundation staff of six-time European champions Liverpool had packed items for region-wide distribution.

Widnes Vikings players Jay and Ted Chapelhow, who both also work with the Championship rugby league club's own foundation, then joined the supply chain to directly deliver packs to care services around their local area.

The brothers are also very familiar to Community Integrated Care as ambassadors for them and have been involved with coaching the Vikings’ Learning Disability Super League side - a team that plays in a competition run by the charity.

Hughes, the charity’s director of partnerships and communities, said the assistance relieved their local managers and frontline carers - which supports some of those most at risk during the pandemic - of an extra burden.

Community Integrated Care provides care and support for people who have learning disabilities, autism and mental health concerns, as well as people living with dementia, nationally. They are one of the largest care providers in the Liverpool City Region.

“Both organisations recognised how challenging the coronavirus situation would be for us and the wider social care sector. It meant a lot for them to proactively approach us to ask what they could do to help our workforce and the people we support, without seeking any recognition or publicity,” Hughes told BBC Sport.

“This coronavirus pandemic is clearly a really challenging issue for the social care sector and has increased the complexity and volume of work that we need to deliver. We want to ensure that our frontline colleagues can continue to focus on the things they need to do, which is providing great care and support and managing our services.

"To have both Liverpool FC Foundation and Widnes Vikings take on such a time consuming and important task, enabling our teams to concentrate on all of their other essential work, was vital. It’s even more heartening that they want to continue to find ways to show us support.

“The social care sector has an absolutely essential role to play in keeping many of the people who could be most impacted by coronavirus safe and well throughout this crisis.”