Football clubs from across the north-east have teamed up to support the region’s most vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic.
Aberdeen FC Community Trust (AFCCT) has won acclaim for its Still Standing Free campaign, which has helped thousands of people across the north-east during the Covid-19 crisis.
At the start of the summer holidays, the trust teamed up with four other clubs – Cove Rangers, Inverurie Locos, Westdyke Community Club and Aberdeen FC Women – in a bid to make even more of a difference.
So far, volunteers, players and staff have handed out more than 1,700 food parcels and other essentials.
AFC Community Trust chief executive Liz Bowie said: “It has been absolutely fantastic to see the football community pull together to provide invaluable support across the area at a time when vulnerable families and their children needed it most.
“The drivers who deliver the packages have told us some really heart-warming stories of some of the reactions they’ve had from recipients, especially from the children, and that’s made it all worthwhile.
“Sport, football in particular, is a great leveller which brings together people of all ages and from all walks of life and the Still Standing Free campaign has demonstrated what can be achieved through people working enthusiastically as a team.”
Still Standing Free has been delivered by AFCCT in partnership with Cfine, and received support from organisations such as the Arthur M Blank Family Foundation and the Lord Provost’s Trust.
Cove, Locos, Westdyke and AFC Women got on board with the scheme to identify those in their own communities who would benefit from deliveries of food.
The trust estimates the efforts of the four clubs have resulted in an additional 5,000 people receiving support.
In total, more than 2,500 food drops have taken place, with 12,000 people benefiting.
As well as food deliveries, more than 15,000 calls have been made to check on the welfare of residents in the north-east.
As children return to school, the current phase of the campaign is set to come to an end – but plans are already being put in place for a legacy programme to continue the scheme.
Liz said: “We recognise the vital part the campaign has had in alleviating food poverty during this difficult period, but the reality is that families will continue to need help in the uncertain times ahead.
“We are in discussions with partners to look at different approaches to provide this support within local community settings. We haven’t finalised our plans yet, but options include ideas like food pantries.
“We are so incredibly grateful to the financial support we have received and what it has enabled to date and will in the future.
“Besides the food initiatives, we are excited about moving forward with some new programmes centred around our key trust activities – education, healthy communities and football.
“We look forward to expanding our MINDSET programme which supports young people’s mental health in a highly interactive and fun setting. Such support will be increasingly important in light of the predicted increase in mental health issues post Covid-19.”