8 July 2020, text: Sandra Biraghi, photos: Helvetia
Concerts, football tournaments, theatrical performances, cycle races, anniversary celebrations, village fêtes, masked balls, youth sports camps – over the past few weeks and months, countless events have fallen victim to the protective measures taken to stop the spread of coronavirus. These events, organised by associations, contribute to social cohesion and also promote sport and culture.
Helvetia launched the #helvetiasupports solidarity campaign at the end of April, with the aim of lending a hand to associations that were feeling the pinch. Associations can easily apply for a contribution of up to CHF 3,000 on Helvetia’s website provided they can justify the amount as lost income or a non-cancellable commitment as a result of measures relating to coronavirus.
«Our president came to me with this message. She had heard that Helvetia was offering associations financial support», explains Patrick Fischer, treasurer of the gymnastics association of Staad (St. Gallen) by Lake Constance. The gymnastics association, which has about 250 active members, had to cancel its youth camp in Tenero (Ticino) that had been scheduled for April, with more than 60 children due to take part. Its local youth day was also called off. However, the club had already incurred some costs for these events. Support from the local people of Thal and the municipality meant that its largest outgoings were covered. «Ultimately, we managed to get off lightly, thanks to the additional contribution from Helvetia». The association fully reimbursed parents who had already paid for the camp. Gifts with the children’s names on had already been produced to commemorate the camp, which they will receive at a later date.
The Anzère-Ayent ski club (Argnou, Valais) saw its plans thwarted by coronavirus: the club was intending to mark its 50th anniversary at the end of the 2019/20 season with an evening of celebrations. And the highlight? A theatrical performance featuring anecdotes form the association’s history staged by club members. The event had to be cancelled shortly beforehand. «Of course, the club had to meet the organisational costs already incurred», explains Jérôme Constantin, president of the ski club. The anniversary celebrations have now been postponed until next year. «Thanks to Helvetia’s support, we will now be able to cover a large part of these costs. Otherwise, we would have had to reduce all kinds of services for the club. Now, we can leave course prices for next season unchanged and we can keep supporting our athletes», says the president. With more than 600 members, the Anzère-Ayent ski club plays a major role in the region. It enables children to take skiing, snowboarding and freestyle lessons at very low prices and is also active in promoting ski racing.
For more than 10 years, the Voci Ateatro theatre group from Monte Carasso (Ticino) has donated the income from its performances to various organisations to benefit children in need. After the first four events had taken place this year, the remaining performances had to be cancelled – but the flyers, banners and refreshments had already been organised and purchased. Voci Ateatro has put together a video to thank Helvetia. The team is planning to make up for the cancelled performances as soon as possible.
«Everything came to a standstill: no training sessions, no games, no events. Absolutely zilch!» says Herbert Luggen, president of FC Termen / Ried-Brig, explaining how the restrictions imposed due to coronavirus affected the club’s activities. That said, there was more than enough for the board, coaches and assistants to do behind the scenes. «After all, the grass keeps growing, crisis or no crisis, and we needed to start planning for the season». The club was hit hardest by the cancellation of the school and village tournament, which it organises every year: 2020 would have been its 33rd year. The event is always a celebratory affair for the village – and it puts money in the club’s coffers. Money that was earmarked for ongoing operations, maintaining the pitches and investing in materials. When Luggen heard about the campaign from his customer advisor at Helvetia, he put in an application immediately. Sales manager Ewald Wyssen and customer advisor Christian Wyssen from the General Agency Oberwallis gave the club Helvetia’s contribution in person. «Associations make a huge contribution to leisure activities, especially at the moment», says Wyssen, explaining the reasoning behind the #helvetiasupports solidarity campaign for associations. «Everyone has a connection to an association. This enables Helvetia to ensure its support reaches as many people as possible». In fact, he has a personal connection to FC Termen / Ried-Brig himself: both his sons have played football there since they were tiny and «gained excellent life experience as a result».
Since the campaign was launched at the end of April, Helvetia has received almost 400 applications for support. More than 300 associations have now received support, with others in the works. Sport clubs make up about two thirds of all applications, with a quarter coming from the cultural sector. Others are active in the social sphere, the arts and business.