As is always the case, a lot has happened at Sunderland AFC over the last 12 months.
We’ve had two new head coaches, a new share ownership split and are now of course in a new league – and those are just the obvious changes.
Not everything has gone to plan, it would be unreasonable to expect otherwise, but by and large it feels like a good time to be supporting the club and pleasingly, as well as looking back on a productive 2022 we are able to look forward to 2023 with high hopes.
Sadly though, that is not the case in all aspects of life – whilst the situation at Stadium of Light has got better, the economic and political landscapes seem to have lurched from one problem to the next: with those on the ground bearing the brunt.
The cost of living crisis is a very real and very dangerous prospect for millions of people, including thousands of Sunderland fans.
It is not just a buzz phrase being used to scaremonger, and it is not a problem for some faceless soul you share nothing in common with. Your relatives, neighbours and colleagues could very easily be living in poverty or danger right now, and in fact so too will countless people that like you are reading this very article.
Good folk, whether through honest mistakes, bad luck or simply circumstances beyond their control, are up against it and have no immediate prospect of things improving.
Every point Sunderland earn in the coming weeks will be cause for celebration, but for some the club will be the only bright spot they have – and helping such members of the public will prove to be an even bigger positive for the local community than seeing the boys in red and white continue to improve.
The recent World Cup shone a light on a lot of practises and conditions ensured by many people living in Qatar. It is right that those issues are highlighted and if possible, addressed, but if we are to continue believing ourselves to be living in a supposedly fairer, more balanced society, we have to recognise the people living on our own doorsteps that are in need of help too.
It is not enough to slap our own backs for the good things about British culture whilst overlooking the bad, and that is why projects such as the Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen need to be in our consciousness.
I know it is not easy to donate to charity at the moment – even those in full time employment are seeing their budgets being stretched, and with so many good causes desperate for help out there it can be hard to know where to turn.
The Soup Kitchen and other groups need love and support as well as money though, so if you can share their message via the links below or donate some time then you are as much a part of the solution as anybody else.
Even making sure you listen to the adverts on the Roker Report pods will help – revenues go to Andrea and her team, at no cost to you as a listener.
The Soup Kitchen is more than ‘just’ a place to get hot meals – it offers so many other forms of practical support that if you are fortunate, you may not even realise is needed.
Anybody can fall through the cracks though, or be the victim of others cruelty, and the numbers doing so will only increase due to the policies and attitudes being seen at the moment. The negative feelings that result can often cause the situation to spiral further too, and often you find that those that need the most the ones to ask for the least.
I hope therefore that anybody in trouble that is reading this can take some solace in the fact that others have walked a similar road before and found good people to lean on, and that everybody else thinks about what they can do to lend a hand.
Tony Mowbray and co will take care of the football in the next twelve months, so can the rest of us try and take care of each other?
- Click here to share our donation link on your WhatsApp groups
- Click here to share our donation link on Twitter using #SoupKitchen22
- download and print a Soup Kitchen poster for your school, workplace, community centre, cafe, or shop.