The official Liverpool Supporters Club in Mumbai reached out to fans across the world to raise funds for underprivileged people living in and around the Mumbai neighbourhood. They have collected Rs 16.5 lakh so far and hope to continue helping feed people until things get better
The community kitchen in Kurla, for which the Mumbai Liverpool Football Club’s Mumbai supporters raised funds. Photo: Neil Chheda
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen many people come together to help those in need through various fundraisers. While quite a few of them have sprouted in the last one year, there are others with experience who had hit the ground running as soon as it was possible at the peak of the first wave itself.
Among such do-gooders were members of the Mumbai Liverpool Supporters Club (OLSC), which is the official group for supporters of the English football club in the city. After helping distribute ration kits to over 100 families in several clusters in Andheri in August of 2020, they decided it was time to help again.
“We have a large fan base across the city and that is why we wanted to do something for the community during the second wave because funds had dried up and a lot of people weren’t donating due to donation fatigue,” explains Neil Chheda, branch secretary, Official Liverpool Supporters Club Mumbai. Apart from the ration kit donation drive in 2020, the supporters club has carried out drives for blood donation and platelet donation in the past.
So they did not think twice before rallying support from club members for feeding the underprivileged in the city. The group decided to raise money for a community kitchen in Kurla, after Khaana Chahiye, a city-based NGO and citizen’s collective, put out a tweet.
Liverpool fans in the city attending a match screening hosted by Mumbai Liverpool Supporters Club (OLSC) before the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Neil Chheda
Football, food drives, and fundraising
Swaraj Shetty, co-founder, Khaana Chahiye says, “The Liverpool Mumbai fan club reached out to us on Twitter asking how they could help after we put out a public SOS saying that we were running out of funds and our kitchens are shutting down.” Shetty says while they collaborated for the initiative, it was completely driven by OLSC, who took it upon themselves to help the kitchen, run by women.
The citizens’ collective, which boasts of around 300 volunteers in the city, has arranged for 60 lakh meals and 70,000 grocery kits over the last two years. However, their call for help came at a time when one of their three verticals was running out of funds in June. While they were earlier working with commercial kitchens and ration kits in the first wave, they decided to start working with community kitchens in the second wave to help locals better. They are currently running them in Kalyan and Kurla and will soon start one with the transgender community in Ulhasnagar.
In no time, the social enterprise helped the football supporters club set up their fundraising page on the Khaana Chahiye website. The target was set at Rs 3 lakhs and the donations started pouring in almost immediately from local donors. However, they wanted to take it to the next level and harness the power of their supporters around the world.
The Anfield Wrap group which walked 40 km covering four stadiums in Liverpool. Photo: Neil Chheda
Call for help goes global
So they reached out to ‘The Anfield Wrap’, a UK-based award-winning sports podcast to spread the message. While the podcast covers a lot of news about the Liverpool football club, they also do a lot for the community in the home city. “The Anfield Wrap took it upon themselves and donated an amount for the fundraiser and a signed shirt of Jamie Carragher, which was auctioned by us,” informs Chheda.
It did not stop there. The Anfield Wrap also came up with a plan to walk across five stadiums in the Liverpool region ending at Anfield, the home ground of the team, covering about 40 kilometres on a Saturday in late June to raise awareness about the fundraiser. Apart from asking their own fans to join them, they also encouraged other club supporters to walk— even if for a few miles — to help raise awareness about the fundraiser for the kitchen in Kurla. The effort was even tweeted about by the official club.
ððð— Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 20, 2021
In no time, they smashed their targets, which increased from Rs 3 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs, and even surpassed Rs 10 lakhs. They finally raised as much as Rs 16.5 lakhs, of which around Rs 7 lakhs came in from their walk. Over time, the podcast reached out to 300 club supporters’ groups around the world in the USA, Spain, France, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia too.
With the money that came in, Khaana Chahiye was able to cater to around 2,000 people through the Kurla community kitchen with around 80,000-90,000 meals. The kitchen will now go on till the first week of August. “The irony was that the three of us who were co-ordinating with the OLSC were Arsenal and Manchester United supporters but after this we may have been converted,” Shetty, a Red Devil supporter, says lightheartedly. He adds that their effort not only helped the supporters as a community but also provided a boost to Khaana Chahiye’s campaign in the city.
For those who would like to donate towards the fundraiser, can do so on http://bit.ly/LSC4kc
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