United players send season's greetings to local hospitals
The Manchester United first team and women’s team honoured the annual tradition of sending season’s greetings and gifts to patients and staff in three local children’s hospitals across Greater Manchester.
For the first time in 20 years, due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, players were unable to attend local children’s hospitals to deliver gifts in person this Christmas. Instead players sent presents and virtual messages of support to patients and staff at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, The Christie and Francis House Children’s Hospice.
Thanking staff for their continued hard work and sending positive messages to help raise patients’ spirits, both teams sent an array of United-themed presents including shirts, hats and scarves to spread some festive joy.
Club captain Harry Maguire expressed the team’s commitment to supporting the young patients even though it couldn’t be done face-to-face. He said: “The team and I are really disappointed we can't visit the hospitals in person this year.
“Last year, I attended The Christie and saw how important it was to patients and staff to receive the support and gifts from Manchester United. It's been a long-standing tradition at our club to visit the children's hospitals and I just hope after such a difficult year, our virtual messages and gifts will put some smiles back on faces."
Manchester United Foundation lead the Christmas visits each year on behalf of the club, and, this year, staff delivered over 500 gifts to the hospitals.
Hannah Simpson, lead nurse for teenagers and young adults at The Christie, expressed her thanks: “Some of our young people are receiving treatment over years and can be in hospital for months. In light of COVID-19, being away from their families and friends and being in isolation, having that support from Manchester United players is invaluable to them.”
Hannah continued: “Even though we can’t give the patients the face-to-face experience this year, having that interaction with the players via video message is really important, especially at this difficult time.”
David Ireland, chief executive at Francis House Children’s Hospice, also reflected on the importance of Manchester United’s support, this year in particular: “Winter is always a very difficult time for our families because of all the normal ailments and hospital appointments, but, under the current circumstances, it’s even more difficult.
“This visit and the gifts are a real lift for everybody. For some people here, any interaction with Manchester United is absolutely brilliant; they are great supporters and follow every match, so it's a great thing for them.
“In these difficult times, it's great for everybody to do what they can to help those most in need in the community and that's certainly something we've seen from Manchester United Foundation.”
This support follows on from Manchester United Foundation and the club’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Santa’s Red Helpers campaign in which staff and players have financially supported Christmas presents and food parcels for those who may otherwise go without.
To find out more about the campaign and how people can make a difference to those in need this Christmas by becoming one of Santa’s Red Helpers, visit: www.mufoundation.org/redhelpers