Footballers from Carlisle United are splashing out their own cash to help support some of the city’s most deprived families - by buying them food.

As one of Cumbria’s most deprived communities, the city’s Currock area was always going to be hit hard by the economic slowdown that the coronavirus lockdown has triggered across the whole of the UK.

But The Reverend Alun Jones, vicar at St Herbert and St Stephen’s Church on Blackwell Road, Currock, has teamed up with the club’s director of football David Holdsworth to organise regular food deliveries to some of the area’s families.

All are at risk as the economic paralysis deepens. The food parcels are being paid for by the club’s players - their way of showing they care about the communities they serve. About 20 families are currently benefitting.

“The players have put together this fund from their own money,” said the Rev Jones, who is Carlisle United’s club chaplain.

“The money is for me to buy food packages for the people of Currock; so it’s a gift from the players themselves and it’s being pushed by David Holdsworth, Carlisle United’s director of football.

“There are currently a lot of people struggling, and Currock is in the bottom ten per cent when it comes to deprivation: it has the fourth highest level of deprivation in Cumbria.

“It’s not so much the people who have been furloughed: they still have 80 per cent of their income. The families who are being hit the hardest are the ones on benefits such as universal credit.

“I see families who are struggling day to day to feed their children adequately; and the lockdown is increasing people’s stress levels, and their feeling of isolation.

“But nobody should have to go without.

“But what I am also seeing on the doorstep is a resilience and an optimism - a feeling that we will get through this.”

The Rev Jones said that it was clear from the work he was now doing that Carlisle United and its players had a real concern for communities. He recalled the floods which have hit the city in recent years.

During those, players were keen to get into the community to help, either just by offering moral support or in many cases by helping with the clean up.

The Rev Jones added: “The club is a focal point and a hub in the community. The players recently visited the Rock (youth project) in Currock, and paid for a microwave and set up football clinics for local youngsters.”

On St Herbert’s Facebook page, there was much praise for the food delivery initiative.

The comments included: “You’re doing a fabulous job in difficult circumstances. “