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Johnny Phillips: Wolves' wolf pack continuing to feed off early success

There was a moment earlier this season when the true impact of Feed Our Pack landed with head of Wolves Foundation, Will Clowes.

Feed Our Pack Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Feed Our Pack Wolverhampton Wanderers.

At Fallings Park Primary School, just a 10-minute drive from Molineux, the deputy head was addressing pupils and guests during the Foundation’s visit.

“It was so powerful to hear the deputy head of the school talk about how important Feed Our Pack had been for the children in their immediate locality over the summer holidays,” Clowes recalls.

“To hear that it was such an essential requirement over the summer, to have food parcels being made available to be either collected from school or delivered to the doorstep, seeing the emotion in that speech really hit home.”

This coming Friday marks a year since the launch of Feed Our Pack’s initial three-year project, with funding of £500,000 thanks to investment from the Premier League and PFA Community Fund and former head coach Nuno Espirito Santo.

The project has been a huge success, bringing supporters together and helping make a positive difference in the community.

During last year’s school summer holidays, Wolves Foundation delivered 1,071 food parcels – each containing enough food to feed a family for two weeks – to families who had children referred to them by local schools.

Fallings Park Primary School raised £12,000 themselves in support of the campaign. In addition, Wolves supporters from across the world have raised over £80,000, enabling the project to reach even more people in the city.

Over the last year the Foundation delivered 105 school holiday activity camps at local primary schools, with 700 children attending over the 12-month period.

The camps provided a range of activity for children during the holidays, as well as offering those in attendance free, nutritional meals for breakfasts and lunch, while also teaching workshops on nutrition, healthy living and cooking.

Wolves Foundation distributed over 20,000 activity packs for children, with resources, games and cooking ideas and tips to try at home, with recipes from Wolves’ chefs.

Aside from the generosity of supporters with fundraising, a culture of help and support has also been steadily building on a matchday since the inception of Feed Our Pack.

“The continuous engagement of supporters who have been so generous with financial support is amazing,” Clowes explains. “The Fan Park on matchdays, with the food drop off points, is getting some really sizeable numbers now.

“Supporters are making it part of their routine and we see familiar faces every week. They’ll put their Wolves hat and scarf on and also grab some tins out of the cupboard before they set off to the game. In the Fan Park we have a prominent space in a container unit with three or four foundation staff on site every matchday.

“Thanks to the Mander Centre we have been able to secure a storage and distribution centre for this food to be redistributed to food banks across the city.

“I genuinely feel there’s a sense of pride amongst supporters that they can help, and we see many kids handing over the food parcels as they are being educated about the challenges. It’s great that it sits alongside all the other stuff that goes on in the Fan Park.”

Since the Everton game in November, over one ton of food has been donated by Wolves supporters, with this food then being redistributed to the food bank network in Wolverhampton.

Due to the infrastructure that has been set up in the first year of the project, Feed our Pack will provide a minimum of 225,000 meals to identified individuals and families over the next 12 months. Feed Our Pack has helped bring together the independent foodbanks that exist across the city, creating a stronger network of support for the most vulnerable.

Wolves Foundation has been hampered by the restrictions imposed during the pandemic, which put a halt to many of the planned activities and events of the past two years, but earlier this season it successfully organised the Molineux Sleepout at the stadium for the first time in two years. Over a hundred fans spent the night sleeping rough in the lower tier of the Stan Cullis Stand during one Friday night in November.

“We were really surprised and appreciative of what the supporters did. We raised over £50,000 on that night alone,” Clowes adds.

“It’s just one example of what the pandemic has done, people are becoming more supportive and considerate of their local area.”

Clowes hopes that Feed Our Pack can be the catalyst for even further engagement this year, and supporters have an opportunity to become part of the initiative in even more ways than before.

“In 2022 we are asking supporters to help in any way they can and that is going to extend to a more comprehensive volunteering programme. Because of the pandemic we couldn’t launch this previously due to the restrictions, but volunteering is a key pillar of Feed Our Pack and the work of the Foundation.”

Nobody could have foreseen the scale of the work that Feed Our Pack has achieved.

Clowes hopes that by the end of the three-year period Wolves Foundation will be able to take a step back from the foodbank provisions, but he is also aware that there is still much to be done before that can happen.

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