From Leeds Rhinos rugby officer to an Elvis impersonating delivery driver - how coronavirus changed one man's view of Leeds

When Sam Horner got furloughed from his job with one of rugby's biggest clubs he decided he wanted to help out in the community he grew up in.

Saturday, 2nd May 2020, 11:45 am

But he is not going about his voluntary role with New Wortley Community Centre quietly.

He is working as part of the community care volunteer programme with Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL) and was assigned to work from the centre, where, his role is mainly dropping off food deliveries - while impersonating Elvis and belting out some of the King's classics on people's doorsteps.

He said: "I’ve always liked Elvis and had a go at the karaoke. In these sad times, we need to keep people’s morale up, and it’s not just the food [deliveries], it’s that knock on the door, step back a couple of meters and actually talking to people for a few minutes. This may be the only contact they get weekly.

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Members of the New Wortley Community Association, Leeds, l to r... Rebecca Houlding Operations Manager , Stuart McKenna a volunteer, Andrea Edwards Chief Executive , Sam Horner Development Officer for the Leeds Rhinos Foundation and Andrea McKenna Chairman of the New Wortley Community Association with some of the items they are getting ready for their food parcels.

“I’ve been doing the cold food parcel drops on Tuesday and the hot ones on Thursday. Before we come to New Wortley, we pick up from Mecca Bingo Leeds, who are making food for the homeless, and take them to St George's Crypt to feed the homeless."

Mr Horner has strong ties to the Armley area in which he volunteers, having been born near to the New Wortley Community Centre and a family history that goes back 150 years. He even helped start the West Leeds Rugby Leeds team in Armley 23 years ago and up until the coronavirus outbreak he was a Rugby Leeds Development Officer at Leeds Rhinos.

He said being a Community Care Volunteer has allowed him to help other people and give back to his community and he hopes people’s attitudes to volunteering will change as they can see first hand what is going on.

He added: "Even though you think you know your city, you don’t really know your city until something like this crisis happens. There’s a lot of poverty and so the impact for me is being more aware of the city and the people that live in it.

“Volunteering makes you understand your city more. You realise what needs are out there and if I can help in anyway I will, and this is only part of it really. When we go back to normal, I’ll continue to work with New Wortley Community Centre on projects in Armley.”

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