Aberdeen FC will call thousands of supporters to check on their welfare this Christmas following the relaunch of a widely-praised campaign.
The club and its charity arm, the AFC Community Trust (AFCCT), won praise from across the football spectrum for the Still Standing Free initiative, which saw players, staff and volunteers call supporters during the early part of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now, with Christmas around the corner, the calls team – which includes a host of first-team stars and Dons legends – has been reformed, with the aim of reaching out to more than 5,000 fans over the festive period.
The winter version of the campaign, named Calling Home for Christmas, is aimed at lifting spirits across the north-east – especially among those who have been shielding or have experienced mental health issues.
AFCCT chief executive Liz Bowie said: “In a year like no other, the run-up to Christmas is going to be tough for many fans and their families. That’s why we will be, once again, checking-in with as many as we can to bring some festive cheer.”
Supporters and participants on the community trust’s programmes who are at particular risk of isolation over Christmas will be first on the list to be contacted.
Dons fans will also have the chance to nominate fellow supporters who may be in need of cheering up.
The trust hopes to build on the success of the Still Standing Free campaign, which saw more than 15,000 supporters called over the course of a 16-week mass outreach initiative.
It was one of several moves designed to improve the mental health of supporters, a drive which also included the creation of the Dons’ official mental health mobile phone app.
Liz added: “Earlier this year it was estimated that as many as one in four people will suffer from mental health issues as a result of being in lockdown.
“As part of the calls this time round, supporters will not only be directed towards the Thrive mental health app which is offered free by the club’s health and wellbeing partner, Health Shield, but also sign-posted to a mental health workshop we will be delivering in December.”