The Scottish Professional Football League Trust is helping 26 clubs become ‘festive friends’ to hundreds of socially isolated older people the length and breadth of the country.
Almost 500 elderly people across Scotland will receive a Christmas to remember thanks to 26 Scottish football clubs and their charity arms, in a new ‘Festive Friends’ project being facilitated by the SPFL Trust.
In another powerful demonstration of the positive impact football can make in local communities, 487 socially isolated older people have been invited to their local SPFL stadiums to enjoy a free Christmas meal, receive a gift and meet new friends including staff from the clubs.
The SPFL Trust - an independent, registered charity that works in partnership with all 42 SPFL Clubs to develop community activities across Scotland – officially announced the new project today with a number of clubs and charitable trusts having already hosted their Festive Friends events.
Nicky Reid, SPFL Trust General Manager, said: “The SPFL Trust recognises the difficulties that many older people face during the festive period and the impact this can have on their physical and mental health.
“Festive Friends is a very simple but hugely effective project which will allow clubs to make a real difference and provide a memorable day for hundreds of socially isolated elderly people across Scotland.
“Not only will these people receive support with transport to the stadium, enjoy a warm meal and be presented with a Christmas gift, there is also an immeasurable social benefit in meeting other people and making new friends within the community.
“It’s another example of the positive force of football. All clubs, trusts, charities and organisations involved should be congratulated for backing this new and important project which we have ambitions of growing in the future.”
Clubs and club trusts delivering Festive Friends, with SPFL Trust support, are: Aberdeen, Albion Rovers, Arbroath, Ayr United, Berwick Rangers, Brechin City, Celtic, Clyde, Cowdenbeath, Dundee, Dundee United, Dunfermline, East Fife, Elgin City, Falkirk, Hearts, Hibernian, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Kilmarnock, Livingston, Motherwell, Partick Thistle, Peterhead, Queen of the South, Raith Rovers and Ross County. Twenty of the 26 involved have their own charitable foundations which are playing a lead role in delivering the events.
In the odd instance some may deliver lunches out with their stadiums where circumstances require an outreach offer. All but one Festive Friends event will be delivered in the run-up to Christmas with the Partick Thistle Charitable Trust opening Firhill on Sunday 25 December to ensure that more than 30 local people enjoy a Christmas Day to remember. Clubs and trusts which have already hosted a Festive Friends lunch are Falkirk, Clyde, Hearts, Hibs, Kilmarnock and Ayr United.
SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster said: “With all 42 SPFL clubs currently delivering community activities out with matchdays, there has never been so much effort from them to help the people local to them and who need that support.
“Festive Friends is just the latest outstanding example of that work and each and every person involved in these events, including those at the SPFL Trust supporting them, should be very proud of the difference they are making. We wish all those people receiving these meals and gifts a safe and happy Christmas and that this can be the start of a closer link between them and their clubs.”
Details about all SPFL Trust projects can be found on the SPFL Trust website