‘THIS is community’: Neville and Scholes ‘humbled’ by work of Wythenshawe charity

Gary Neville and Paul Scholes gave their support to the Wythenshawe Community Initiative, taking time out to chat with the centre’s staff and children.

The charity has a simple aim; to make life better for local children and families in whatever way they can through after-school clubs, playgroups and contact centres.

The United legends spoke with staff members and volunteers before being shown around the centre, and Neville said he was ‘humbled’ by the visit.

HEROES: The Manchester United legends spend time with the children

“You can’t really put it into words,” the England right-back told MM.

“We were just listening to personal stories and how it operates; it’s humbling really.

“You hear the story of a 19-year-old girl who came here as a single parent in trouble and now she’s a volunteer giving back.

“That’s what a community is; it’s looking after one another. Sometimes you go to places and it really grabs you and grips you; this is one of those places.

“When I hear the word community or support I will think about this place moving forward and think ‘actually no, that’s community, that’s support, that’s sacrificing yourself for other people’.

“It’s brilliant what they do, it’s absolutely brilliant.”

The children were thrilled to spend meet their heroes, who took time to paint with them and answer their questions.

The charity provides a contact centre, providing support for separated families to see their children through independent contact arrangements.

The centre also runs after school clubs, pre-school playgroups and play schemes for children to take the pressure off parents during the school holidays.

Wythenshawe Community Initiative manager, Clare North, was delighted that the Manchester icons took time to visit the centre and explained the difficulties of keeping the centre running.

“It’s amazing that they’ve come to visit us today, everyone is so excited,” she said.

“We have a small part-time staff team, then we’ve got a team of around 20 volunteers who support the playgroup, the after school club and the contact centre.

“Funding is becoming harder to get. We always used to get quite a lot of money through the council and through local government but that’s dwindled significantly over the last few years.

“We are having to look at different ways of fundraising which is why we set up a community interest company.”

WE MUST DO MORE: The duo will be working with the charity closely in the future

Regarding the charity’s finances, Neville went onto explain how his Old Trafford hotel venture with Scholes can help the charity.

“It’s fantastic but then you think it’s scary that there isn’t this support here provided by the state naturally,” he said.

“The reason me and Paul are here today is to do with the hotel at Old Trafford.

“People that we know from there have good friends here, and we’re going to start things at the hotel that hopefully can give some financial support to this place.

“When they tell you stories about how their funding has been cut and they struggle to get the funding, it makes you want to do more and I start with myself.

“I’ve got to do more because it’s the type of place that will make you feel you should be doing more.”

The pair took time to pose for photos and sign autographs before leaving in what will go down as a memorable and historic morning for the Wythenshawe Community Initiative.

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