Sport continues to provide support
Athletes, clubs and sport personalities have been showing support for the community, offering help to vulnerable members of the public, their fan bases and colleagues during the coronavirus pandemic.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the sporting goodwill stories to emerge on March 27.
Novak Djokovic has joined Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in helping the fight against coronavirus by making a personal donation of one million euros (around £890,000) to buy medical equipment in Serbia.
The world number one sought advice from people around the world on how best to direct help where it is needed before making the contribution, along with his wife Jelena.
Djokovic will use personal contacts to buy equipment from China and Europe.
“I keep receiving calls from all over the world and people want to help, but don’t know where or how,” Djokovic said on his Instagram account.
“We have decided to open an emergency account through Novak Djokovic Foundation where our family money will go and I’m directing any other person that wishes to help to donate there.
“All the money will go towards the purchase of respirators, medical equipment, and any required supplies like masks.
“I am fully aware of how much this crisis has impacted everyone on all fronts.
“I am touched by the generosity that keeps pouring from across the globe with the intention to give back and help in Serbia.
“I am very proud to be an athlete in these times, among many greats who have come forward to bring people together at a time when we are apart – to bring hope, community, and inspire others in the same way to use our platforms for good. This is what life is all about – giving.”
South Africa’s World Cup winning captain Siya Kolisi has announced an initiative to supply hand sanitiser, masks, goggles and other vital personal protective equipment to Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth and Khayelitsha Hospital in Cape Town
“We as a nation should be proud of the way our commander-in-chief, our president, has laid the law. It shows how important this is, but we can’t leave everything to the government,” said Kolisi, who guided the Springboks to victory over England in Yokohama during November.
“We all have a role to play. For some of us, that is to stay at home right now, and for some of us, we can do a bit more than that. That is to offer resources and help out any way we can.”
The Kolisi Foundation will continue to escalate its response over the coming weeks as the needs develop at the hospitals.
“The most important thing right now is to fight, to show a united front as a country, and we can only achieve that together,” added Kolisi, captain of Super Rugby side the Stormers.
“Personal business aside, it’s people getting behind South Africa and getting behind those who can’t help themselves.
“This is not one man’s battle. It has no race; it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, it affects everybody.
“It’s time for all of us to stand together and show a united front in this time. We’re definitely stronger together.”
Closer to home, work is under way to convert Scarlets’ ‘barn’ training facility into a temporary hospital ward.
The Llanelli base will provide additional bed space for hundreds of people on the turf of its indoor training pitch, with the aim of being ready for an anticipated peak in demand during May.
The wooden foundations of the makeshift ward now cover the green turf of the pitch and will soon be under the management of doctors and nurses from Hywel Dda University Health Board.
Carmarthenshire County Council has also commissioned contractors to turn Carmarthen Leisure Centre and indoor bowls hall the Selwyn Samuel Centre into temporary bed space for the NHS.
The Exeter Chiefs Foundation has granted some £100,000 into a new support service launched in the city to help people through the current crisis.
Exeter Community Wellbeing – set up by Exeter City Council and Wellbeing Exeter – will offer help and support to communities, including those individuals who are self-isolating as a result of the pandemic.
London Irish have teamed up with waste management and recycling business Powerday to deliver thousands of meals and vital equipment to hospitals across the capital.
Harlequins, meanwhile, are delivering ‘mindfulness’ sessions to players, their partners and soon to the online community aimed at supporting mental health and wellbeing.
Chelsea’s senior squad have made a “sizeable donation” to the Premier League club’s foundation, which will boost their community support.
The Chelsea Foundation will work with local charities to support the vulnerable, initially across Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is already footing the bill for the Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge being completely turned over to NHS staff.
Blues skipper Cesar Azpilicueta said: “In these difficult times it is important we support those in need and together the players are proud to be able to do this through the Chelsea Foundation.”
Southampton will cook and deliver 1,000 meals-per-week for local people in need during the coronavirus shutdown.
The Saints have linked up with charity FareShare, the UK’s national network of charitable food redistributors, to help the south-coast community during the pandemic.
Swansea, meanwhile, have offered the Liberty Stadium to the emergency services should they need extra space amid the pandemic.
The Sky Bet Championship club will also make free match tickets available to NHS workers and other key personnel when the action resumes.
England cricketer Olly Stone has joined in with Warwickshire’s initiative to keep in touch with elderly and vulnerable club members, having been nominated by his team-mates to #makethecall – and passed the baton onto sporting director Paul Farbrace.