A TOWN'S support group for the vulnerable has partnered with its local football club to level up efforts in helping people through uncertainty.

Darlington Support, a group borne out a grassroots project to support people during the coronavirus crisis, has partnered with Darlington Football Club to meet the ongoing needs of the town during the pandemic.

This includes signposting residents, sharing resources such as blogs and social media posts, and a joined-up approach to support the most vulnerable, isolated and shielding people.

Both parties intend to extend this collaboration beyond Covid-19, and therefore continue to work with the vulnerable once the virus is beaten – a goal previously expressed by Darlington Support. The group, which is now an unregistered charity but began as a Facebook group, recently has its first cross-party trustee meeting.

Darlington Football Club, in a bid to reach the community it was no longer seeing due to a pause on sport and ensure "none of our supporters feel lonely and depressed", launched a buddy scheme in April. This saw members of the club calling fans for a chat.

Joanne Cameron, the football club's matchday events manager and Darlington Support volunteer who is excited about the collaboration, said: “My aim is to help connect the football club to its local community.

"In years to come, these unprecedented and challenging times will be a history topic and I wanted to be able to look back and know I made a difference during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I have been involved with the club's buddy scheme carrying out buddy calls to our fans for several months now, and I also volunteer for Darlington Support and carry out regular follow up calls speaking to those that are elderly and vulnerable in our town.

"The support I have received from the Darlington Support volunteer team has been amazing and I am proud to have introduced them to Darlington Football Club, as both have the Darlington community closely at heart”.

Kimberley Scott and George Jabbour, the founders of Darlington Support, said: “We are incredibly thrilled to start a new partnership with Darlington Football Club.

"Joanne, together with hundreds of volunteers, joined Darlington Support at the start of the coronavirus outbreak and have since been working extremely hard to serve our community because they care about the well-being of our local residents and would like to make a positive contribution during these uncertain times.

"Through its Buddy Scheme, the Club is playing a vital role in supporting its many fans. We came to the natural conclusion that, by working together and joining forces, we can have a bigger impact and help more people across our town, not only for the next few weeks, but also over the long-term, well after this current crisis has ended.”