Allan Saint-Maximin visits Newcastle West End Food Bank
Newcastle United forward Allan Saint-Maximin has visited Newcastle West End Food Bank after striking up a conversation with the charity's staff on Twitter.
After building a rapport with organisers on the social media platform following his move to Tyneside earlier this month, the 22-year-old pledged to visit the food bank to show his support.
On Wednesday afternoon, Saint-Maximin delivered on his promise and took time out after training to attend the charity's distribution centre in Benwell, Newcastle upon Tyne.
During his visit, the winger chatted to staff and some of the local families who rely on the centre's food parcels and support - and even helped out by making cups of tea. He also presented the charity with a signed Magpies home shirt, which will raise much-needed funds through a raffle.
Saint-Maximin said: "I received a message from the Food Bank and I thought 'wow, they are amazing'. I wanted to help, to show people what they do, so it makes me very happy to be here.
"The people who come here do not have a lot. I am lucky as a footballer, but I am a normal person. I started with very little so I know what it can be like. Coming here to meet all the people, to make them smile, it is very important to me."
Newcastle West End Food Bank, which is the largest food bank of its kind in the UK, has become closely connected with Newcastle United after the fan-organised 'NUFC Fans Food Bank' movement began successfully collecting donations from generous supporters at St. James' Park on home matchdays.
John McCorry, chief executive at Newcastle West End Food Bank, said: "Newcastle West End Food Bank acts as a safety net for people who find themselves outside the benefits system. There are many reasons why people come here, but we meet that core, human need to put food on the table. We put them back on the right pathway.
"The NUFC Fans Food Bank movement has been an absolute blessing. It is a grouping of fans who come together, who volunteer for us at Strawberry Place outside the stadium and they collect food donations and cash. It has profiled the issue of poverty in the city but, much more than that, it is a source of income and food that we can put back into the community where it is really needed.
"Allan had tweeted after the (Saint-Étienne) match and Stuart (Latimer), who works with the food bank, had responded. It's through that connection that Allan wanted to come and see us and learn more.
"It’s just delightful to see someone who's at the top of their game, playing for one of the best teams in the country, who wants to come and see people who are not so well off. It shows there's compassion there. It's really heart-warming and we're delighted Allan has come along."
The NUFC Fans Food Bank donation point will be open ahead of home matches at the Gallowgate End of St. James' Park throughout the 2019/20 season.
Supporters are encouraged to donate food items and toiletries, while cash buckets will also be in use. Newcastle West End Foodbank also runs a donation point in Newcastle's Grainger Market (Alley 3), which is open 11am - 2pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
To donate cash via phone, please text DONATE FOOD to 88802. You will receive a link via text to make your donation online.
To find out more about Newcastle West End Food Bank, please visit newcastlewestend.foodbank.org.uk.