Argyle Community Trust van full of Ginsters produce

Pledge 35 with Argyle Community Trust

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In a little under a fortnight, nearly 100 members of the Argyle community have signed up to Pledge 35, a commitment to spend 35 hours supporting Project 35 initiatives in the local community.

As detailed in our recent Project 35 summer update, the campaign – run in partnership with Ginsters – is already making a significant impact in the local community, with over 16,000 meals provided to local children and families throughout the school summer break.

Speaking to Argyle TV to mark the launch of Pledge 35, Dwain Morgan, Argyle Community Trust’s Head of Business and Impact, said: “Project 35 has made an incredible start. We’re off to a really positive launch.

“Through the summer, we've had some of our holiday hunger projects running in Plymouth and Devon and Cornwall. We've seen somewhere between 11-12,000 young people - they've engaged in days of fun, sport, some enrichment activities, and probably most importantly, through Project 35 they've had hot and cold meals made available to them.

“What's been really rewarding for Project 35, and linked to our holiday hunger projects, is that our Project 35 partner Ginsters has donated just over 13,000 items of stock, with which we've managed to make sure every young person that comes to our courses has left with a hamper - not just for them, but for their family as well - to make sure that we're playing a role in overcoming weekend hunger.

“We've also been doing some targeted food support and isolation work across the communities of Stonehouse and Whitleigh. We're currently supporting about 35 to 40 families a week. To date, we’ve supported and passed out just over 200 weekly food hampers, and probably fed over 1,000 local people that way too.”

The Trust’s reputation for instigating change through sport in Devon and Cornwall is second to none, with their expertise and track record for helping local communities securing a number of accolades, including the South West Your Move Community Club of the Year award from the EFL. Despite the charity’s reputation, Dwain admits the Trust has been stunned by the groundswell of interest in and support for Project 35.

He said: “We've been inundated with requests about how people can get involved and how they might support, whether that's financially, whether it's through resource, and we've been overwhelmed by the support has been made available to us.

“We’ve been fortunate as local people, local organisations and businesses have been incredibly supportive. Season ticket holders and the whole community have been forthcoming to support Project 35 - and that's a great testament to the club and the power of the badge.”

The aims and objectives of Project 35 have never been clearer, with the cost of living reaching historic levels, and a winter fuel crisis looming large. Dwain hopes that Project 35 can harness the thousands of members of the Argyle community to be as impactful as possible during these challenging times.

He said: “We need the Green Army. We need our fans. We need our partners and supporters, both commercial partners and local community partners.

“What we are learning through our Project 35 journey is food insecurity, fuel poverty, deprivation - and poverty more broadly - it's complex, and it's vast. In order to have a significant impact on reducing poverty and drive social change, we need people power.

“Pledge 35 is our call to action, our social action initiative that sits within Project 35. We're trying to rally the troops; we're trying to rally our season ticket holders and all Argyle fans. We're trying to rally our local communities that's across Devon, Cornwall and Plymouth to make a commitment to Project 35. We're asking people to pledge 35 hours to come in to support the club in activities around food poverty, child poverty, and fuel poverty.”

Pledges are expected to tick over 100 at the weekend, and supporters are able to sign up by filling out this form. From there, a member of the Trust staff will be in touch, offering those signed up a range of options to volunteer for. But what can a Pledge 35 participant expect to be doing?

Dwain explains: “The simple answer is all sorts. We need help across the board. For anybody that signs up and volunteers to Pledge 35, they may be asked to, for example, help us deliver and drive some of the stock around different towns, different communities, to make sure we're helping to overcome weekday and weekend hunger.

“We've got a call to action out to help get some literature and books around local schools, where there's high levels of literacy poverty, and we also need people helping with picking and packing food hampers and stock around the counties.

“So, we need people in helping us to prepare. We also have the fans and local people helping us drive up donations to, so getting hold of stock - whether that's blankets, coats, hats, and scarves to overcome fuel poverty - or non-perishable food items, pencil cases, school uniform, literature and books.”

In addition, Pledge 35 participants – who will get a shout-out in the programme and see their name on the big screen at Home Park upon completion of their hours – could be placed with a local charity in need of extra staffing support.

Dwain continued: “One of the biggest commitments we want to make through Pledge 35 is to try and signpost local people to local organisations that need support. Also, we've been working very closely with FareShare South West, Transforming Plymouth Together, Action for Children, and the Children in Poverty network. They need support too, and we feel that we've got a role to play in linking local organisations that need support with local people that have time and a willingness to contribute through Project 35.”

For more information on Project 35, click here.

To sign up to Pledge 35, click here.

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