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Football club plays most important fixture - delivering food to needy during coronavirus pandemic

Updated: Nov 8, 2022

Small Heath-based Dream Chaser FC rallying to deliver shopping to vulnerable residents on lockdown during coronavirus pandemic.

The Small Heath side's driving force, Asha Rage, 43, said: "It's hard to tell a house with five or seven kids inside that they can't go out. We can help them to not risk their life."

This is not the first time BirminghamLive has reported the inspirational efforts of this football team, determined to change their neighbourhoods one day at a time.

Asha Rage Head of Dream Chasers FC delivering shopping to vulnerable adults.

In 2017 Asha enrolled on a football coaching course at Aston Villa having never played professionally.

Her aims were to help the community and provide an escape from of youth crime. Since then she has created her own football team - Dream Chaser FC, which has progressed into a youth club of the same name.

Now, the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the club to the forefront for people who need help the most.

"I was at home and received a phone call from people who needed help, vulnerable people and young people with underlying health issues," said Asha.

"They couldn't come out of their house and telling me they had difficulty going out to get shopping with kids and having kids not touch anything."

Asha Rage with Dream Chaser FC players.

'There are people on universal credit without any food. People are struggling'

"I thought: 'Let me do something to help out' so I made a WhatsApp group raising the issue and people started to donate.

"More people started approaching me - including an old lady who lives by herself.

"Because of the language barrier, it is hard for an elderly woman to ask for help."

Dream Chasers FC delivering shopping to vulnerable adults.

Food and essential supplies are delivered to families who struggle to get out or are restricted in doing so by health advice.

Dream Chaser FC collects money in two ways: using cash from those who have it but cannot leave home and collecting donations on social media for families who cannot afford to shop for themselves.

"I started doing shopping, raising money through social media," said Asha. "The people who have their own money and couldn't go out sent me the money.

"We do the shopping and deliver it to the front door. The demand became higher. "

'I was delivering to five houses by myself it was too much'

"We deliver milk, bread, fruits, yoghurt, nappies, salt, washing-up liquid - small things that can make a difference.

"If they don't have it they call and say:'Thank you so much, we weren't expecting this much'.

"It's only one or two that have their own money.

"Mostly what we do is get donations and deliver.

Shopping and donations ready to be delivered to vulnerable residents by Dream Chasers FC.

Despite being based in Small Heath the club's representatives have found themselves venturing out across the city.

To date, they have supported families struggling to feed themselves in areas such as Handsworth, Smethwick, Aston and Nechells.

But demand is beginning to outstrip capacity.

"My phone is ringing non-stop," said Asha.

"The feedback is amazing. You're preventing a lot of people who have underlying health issues from going outside.

"At the moment we need more donations.

"You put yourself out there to help and everyone is calling."

Shopping and donations ready to be delivered to vulnerable residents by Dream Chasers FC.

"This thing is killing people. It's even killing people at home, there are domestic issues at home and mental health issues.

"I am trying to connect the community together, put them on one platform so people can help.

"When your community needs you, you can't just put your phone down - I couldn't do that.

"I feel like people are locked in their house and have the ability to help other people.

"You can do a lot at home."

'I know I am putting myself in more risk'

Club members put their own health at risk every time they venture into shopping centres and knock on the doors of strangers.

But it has strict rules when delivering shopping.

"We don't talk to them at all," Asha said. "We deliver the food and go.

"I have sanitiser, a mask, I wash my hands every single time I go out. I change everything and put it in the wash.

"As an organisation I can say we did our bit and did it safely, following the governmental procedures, two metres away every day.

"I am worried about my health but, at the same time, I couldn't sit down and look at people crying for help without food in their houses.

"I feel like I am still safe - whatever I am doing it is still working.

"It makes me feel good to help other people."

Date: 15 April 2022

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