Gestures of goodwill are one of the very few positives that have come from the recent Coronavirus lockdown and one Mecca Bingo hall did their bit for their local community over the weekend.
Chesterfield Mecca Bingo were one of the latest entities to give back and make good of a bad situation over the weekend, as they opened their kitchens to provide a food service.
The initiative saw food donated by the Mecca Bingo food supplier Bitfood, which will then see staff work to produce more than 1,000 free meals from the ingredients that will then be delivered by a local taxi company.
The recipients of the free meals are Applewood Homeless Shelter, which is based in Chesterfield, and Chesterfield Royal Hospital, helping to support both NHS workers and those who are currently staying there.
General manager of the bingo hall, Martin Webster, said: “We are proud to be able to provide our help and support to the community by offering up our club as a place to prepare and cook meals for those in need during this difficult time.
“Our employees are wonderful and they have shown this by coming together and giving up their time to help support important causes. It’s great to see such a strong sense of community.”
Toby Perkins, Chesterfield MP, added: “Many thanks for taking such an active role during this crisis and doing what you can to help the most vulnerable. I am so pleased by the reaction from local businesses who have stepped up to ensure people have the support they need.”
BetVictor will no longer be the main sponsor of the Isthmian League and Southern League after the bookmaker made the decision to end their agreement with the football divisions at the end of the 2019/20 season.
Both the Isthmian League and Southern League were included in the FA’s decision to declare all league seasons beneath the National League were null and void with no promotion or relegation taking place either.
BetVictor chose to end their agreement months before the original deal was meant to expire on July 9 and had been the Isthmian league’s main sponsor since Ryman ended their 20-year partnership in 2017.
The bookmaker insists that the decision was not taken as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, with a letter being sent out to all member clubs at why the sponsorship had been pulled.
The letter read: “BetVictor have terminated the sponsorship for a number of reasons but mainly due to the fact that the increasing compliance restrictions and challenges faced in their first seven months outweighed the benefits they were drawing from the sponsorship.
“However, the escalating negativity towards betting in football did not help, nor did – most disappointingly – compliance breaches by clubs in and outside of the Isthmian League.
“Although the search for a new sponsor has begun, the Covid-19 crisis makes it very difficult to engage meaningfully with potential replacements.
“So, as of now, the leagues operating at step three and four have no main sponsor for season 2020/21.”
It is yet another tough pill to swallow for non-league football in England, where there are already serious fears about the futures of clubs that will be missing out on vital matchday revenues for the foreseeable future.
Over 100 teams have written to the FA asking them to reconsider their decision to declare all non-league seasons null and void but they are not expected to reverse that decision.
Isthmian League chairman Nick Robinson added: “We are very disappointed that this decision was made as it means that we are not able to develop the relationship with the sponsor.
“We are actively looking for a new sponsor, but are apprehensive at this time due to the general economic downturn due to Covid-19.
“We believe we have a good and marketable product which has attracted sponsors for nearly 40 years and we hope will continue to do so once we are able to restart the league.”
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Community radio stations across the country have united on social media and in song to raise awareness and support for the sector.
Over 50 stations have written to John Whittingdale MP, Ian O’Neil at DCMS and Dame Melanie Dawes at OFCOM, following the announcement of changes to the Community Radio Fund, which stations say doesn’t go far enough to sustain the future of the sector.
SUSY Radio was born on 3rd November, 1996 after two trials, “Jubilee FM” in June, 1994 and “Trust FM” in September, 1995.
The station then continued its campaign by broadcasting for the permitted periods available under the temporary licence arrangements available (Restricted Service Licence) resulting in the eventual award of a full time permanent licence allowing broadcasts to begin on 15th July, 2012.
Susy Radio is a “not for profit” community radio station operated by a team of volunteers, many who have also been involved in the professional radio industry, and the station serves the people of Reigate and Redhill and the immediate surrounding area. It provides local news, information and entertainment and promotes local community access and involvement, supporting local events, organisations, arts and local talent. It encourages social cohesion and provides training facilities within the operation of the community radio station.
On Friday May 1st, at 9.15am, stations across the country took to social media to promote the work the sector continues to deliver and request more support from the Government.
The posts showcased how this essential pillar of communication is continuing to deliver local news, information and entertainment to communities, either from home, or from studios, in compliance with social distancing rules.
Stations united to play The Beatles ‘All You Need Is Love’, at 9:15am on Friday morning with an accompanying video shared online.
Nathan Spackman, operations director at Bro Radio in South Wales, is one of those leading the calls.
He said, “The announcement of the repurposing of the Community Radio Fund is welcome and I praise OFCOM, DCMS and the Community Media Association for their work in turning this over so quickly. As welcome as the announcement is, with almost 300 stations on air we estimate that only 40 radio stations will benefit from the fund, based on a grant of £10,000 per station. We are calling on DCMS and MP’s to review the fund, to support more stations during these challenging times.”
Barry Clack, founder and director of Witney Radio in Oxfordshire, said: “Supporting Community Radio is a vital campaign to the nearly 300 licensed OFCOM community stations in the UK. The stations broadcast to the hyperlocal communities in the country and during these horrific times of crisis, all the hard work is heard by listeners, keeping them informed and entertained during this period of lockdown. Community Radio has never been more important than now in delivering content to its listeners and so we ask people to #SupportCommunityRadio.”
Martin Steers, manager of NLive Radio in Northampton, added: “I’m passionate about raising the profile of Community Radio and all the great work these stations are doing all over the country for the communities they serve at this time. I hope this campaign will raise awareness that Community Radio stations need supporting, locally and nationally.”