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The Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen 2023 Christmas Appeal is OFFICIALLY underway!

December is here, and it’s once again time to support the invaluable work of the Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen - and we can learn a lesson from SAFC history.

Preparations for Christmas are about to ramp up now, and Roker Report are pleased to announce the start of their traditional Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen (SCSK) funding drive for 2023.

Thousands of pounds have been raised already in the past as members of the Sunderland AFC family and wider community have come together to support the cause over the festive season, and we are again asking people to do what they can to continue this much-appreciated support.

There are many ways in which people can contribute.

This year, SAFC 365: An SAFC Anthology has been released with all profits going to the SCSK, whilst a news of a special collaboration with Sock Council will be out soon - these products come with the added bonus of being able to tick somebody off your ‘to buy for’ gift list, whilst there will be plenty more opportunities to get involved in over the coming weeks, so keep an eye out on the socials and website.

A good place to start though would be to consider exactly how and why folk may need help in the first place, as it is not always as clear cut as some would like to make out.

Circumstances can change at the drop of a hat and you never know when you will need a bit of a leg up – indeed, even our own beloved Sunderland has faced its issues and needed others to fly in a save the day.

In 1881 a raffle was held at Hendon Church Institute to try and raise funds for the team. A green canary, believed to have been donated by a committee member, was offered as a prize but after being won by another member of the club it was offered up again – tickets being sold for the second round at a reduced rate to avoid accusations of it being a fix.

Due to the new winner not being present at the draw they were believed to have been sent an alternative item instead and the bird remained with its original owner, but as the club attempted to get off the ground the money raised by the feathered friend was very welcome.

Hendon is the same part of town as the SCSK warehouse, and was integral to the club’s early years. By the time of the First World War, Sunderland had gone from their humble beginnings needing to organise raffles to keep going and had become one of the biggest clubs in the game. Even still though, they were not immune to outside factors and like many others in the country at that time of great need they were in a dire position.

Redevelopment of Roker Park had already put a strain on the finances before the hostilities and now Sunderland needed guarantors to see them through the period. After proposing the scheme Councillor Water Raine, a prominent figure in Wearside history who later served as Mayor of Sunderland before becoming one of the town’s MPs and subsequently being knighted, put himself forward, and so too did former captain John Auld.

Raine would later become chairman of the club and oversee a period of great success in the 1930s, whilst Auld had already been part of some glory days at Sunderland having played in their first three Football League title-winning campaigns – the first two as a regular starter. It is understandable then that he had an affection for the club, but what is perhaps surprising is the fact that by this stage he was a director at Newcastle United!

That a representative of their fiercest rivals was still willing to help Sunderland speaks volumes about human nature, but also highlights how even an established institution with thousands of supporters can find themselves in a difficult situation through no fault of their own.

Here in 2023 we have a similar situation – the cost of living crisis and other pressures mean that people in all walks of life, including in many instances those in work, now have to rely on the kindness of others just to get the basics.

Claiming you can get out of these situations by ‘retraining’ or ‘working harder’ or whatever it is that certain individuals spew out is either dangerously disingenuous or woefully naïve.

Carers, parents, guardians, these people cannot always change their employment circumstances without it impacting other areas and if they did, what happens about the roles they would no longer be fulfilling? Even NHS staff are having to approach foodbanks and where would we be if they went elsewhere?

It is a calling for large numbers of them and a vital service we cannot afford to lose, so not only does such thinking result in problems cropping up elsewhere, but it also fails to reflect the wide range of other circumstances impacting us and why we make the decisions we do.

We have all seen the hurdles and barriers people in this country are experiencing today, and they will not be resolved until those in power choose to do so or are replaced; emphasising in the meantime that those of us that are having it worst does not cut it, and kindness is the only way forward.

We can be forgiven at times for looking after ourselves first, and assuming that there will always be somebody else able to help those around us that need it, but that isn’t always the case. Local services are stretched to breaking point, and even if they weren’t, some individuals would fall through the cracks anyway.

SCSK is their safety, and it could be yours one day too, so December will hopefully see their love reflected by the wider community.


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