In the latest instalment of our series on Ulster rugby clubs supporting the community, this week the spotlight turns to Lisburn Rugby Club, which has been providing support to people in the area since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The club’s Honorary Secretary, Michael Knowles commented, “The initiative started with us asking ourselves how we can give back to the community during these times. We have a WhatsApp group for members and simply asked anyone who would be willing to help to drop me a message. I set up a separate group for volunteers on WhatsApp and posted any requests for help there. The club has a lot of members with more free time on their hands and are keen to help at this time.
“No task is too big or too small for us; whether it’s doing grocery shopping, walking dogs, or delivering prescriptions, there is always someone on hand from the club to provide support.
“As time went on, we sent emails to our members and posted on social media our offer of help but didn’t receive a lot of traction, as people linked to the club were often being cared for by family.
“One of our players, Richard McGregor then suggested working with the local foodbank who were delighted to have the club offer assistance. I co-ordinate a rota by linking with the foodbank to fill any slots needed. There are members who help every week, and others who do bits and pieces when they can.
“The club has volunteers who go to the foodbank when they receive their big drop of supplies and whoever is there on that day will deliver the parcels. We also have slots on Thursdays and Fridays and are given a list of addresses to deliver to. The foodbank has really helped apply some structure to our volunteering efforts.
“Our club Chair, Kenny Millen has been heavily involved in the sorting and delivering of foodbank parcels; as have our 1st XV captain, Adam Jamison, our women and men senior teams, one of our referees, youth coaches and mini coaches. Several members from across the different sections of the club have pitched in which has been fantastic.
“The senior squad has also been doing some strength and conditioning training on Zoom. One of the boys, Gareth Millar suggested making the first session a sponsored run. Through this, they raised £400 which they donated to the foodbank.
“We’ve come across many people in different circumstances and they’re very thankful of the food being delivered to them, and in particular, they’re hugely appreciative of the foodbank. It’s great to see the smiles on their faces when we deliver to them. We’ve received some messages of thanks from club members who are grateful that the help is there if needed too.
“The club has found it to be an excellent way to keep the club mentality going while we’re not able to meet and play rugby together. It keeps the members engaged and we can give back to the community who supports us as well. It’s another way to do things collaboratively as a club and we’re delighted to be able to support residents in the area.”
If clubs wish to get involved, please check with your local council to find out what help is required in your area.