SPFL Trust launched a new-look Christmas initiative designed to support those who need it most at this time of year, Festive Friends – At Home which was supported by Peterhead FC.
And critically, funding previously announced from James Anderson and The SPFL Trust`s second anonymous donor meant that a total of £87,700 was committed to this year’s campaign.
That meant that SPFL Trust were able to more than DOUBLE the number of people clubs were able to support.
As such, more than 2,400 people received a socially distanced doorstep visit to their home and a Christmas hamper, delivered by a friendly face from their local SPFL club.
It’s been a tough year for everyone due to Covid-19, but of course, it has been especially difficult for the elderly who are at higher risk of social isolation.
Ordinarily, Festive Friends with Peterhead FC takes place at Balmoor`s Bloo Toon Lounge. Participants enjoy a tasty Christmas lunch, Christmas Carols from Buchanhaven School Choir, a club gift, as well as the means to get there and home. Over 400 people have enjoyed the event in the last four years.
Physical distancing rules meant that wasn’t possible in 2020, so Peterhead FC flipped the entire operation, and headed into their communities to make over 100 doorstep visits.
SPFL Trust interim chief executive Warren Haw
ke comments: “This year has been challenging for us all, not least for those who are experiencing social isolation. Festive Friends has been such a successful programme that has grown year on year, and so we recognised that we needed a new approach to keep the programme going, in 2020.
“Festive Friends At Home, was about more than just sending out Christmas hampers; it was about delivering compassion, patience and kindness at the end of a year when it never meant more.
“We’d like to thank James Anderson and our second donor for their support in delivering this initiative. Their generosity enabled us to reach more people than ever before.”
“We’re therefore delighted to support this very worthwhile cause, working closely with our partners in the SPFL Trust and football clubs across Scotland.
Peterhead FC Community Liaison Officer Nat Porter said ` We were delighted when the SPFL Trust decided to continue the Festive Friends initiative. It has always been very popular and well received in the community. With the help of Chairman Rodger Morrison, Team Manager Jim McInally, Directors Les Hill , Mike Duncan, Charlie Watt, Local Councillor, Dianne Beagrie ,Sandy Garvock from the local Deep Sea Fishermans Mission and myself we delivered the grand total of 105 hampers in the Peterhead and surrounding areas.`
Most of the recipients were over 65 years old and included 98 yr old Alex Ritchie and 91 year old `Dodo McDougall. Dodo was absolutely delighted and said ` what a lovely gesture from Peterhead FC. I`m absolutely chuffed with the hamper and delighted to meet Team Manager and former Scotland international Jim McInally in person. It`s cheered me up no end. Thank you`
Amongst the recipients were 5 hampers to Tremaine House which is a fantastic sensory centre for adults with autism.
We also delivered to 4 ladies whose husbands are in Care Homes with dementia and they will not be allowed to join for Christmas dinner due to Covid. They were all delighted and one lady Mrs Robertson said ` My husband is a great fitba and Peterhead FC fan. He hasn’t been to a game for a wee while now but it is so nice of the Club to give me this lovely hamper. I`ll be sure to tell him`
We delivered a couple of hampers to Kirkburn Court and the Care Home Manager advised us that the 55 residents were being vaccinated that afternoon. It was no wonder he appeared really happy!
Another ex fisherman who has hit on hard times and his wife came to the door and he `was delighted that Peterhead FC were helping the local community and in particular the elderly ex fishermen who have lost their jobs in the past few years `
Nat concluded `In summary it was a great day which brought a doorstep chat and a smile to a lot of nice people. Lots of worthy people and good causes out there. Delighted that the SPFL Trust
decided to go ahead with the initiative in spite of the restrictions and a big thank you to Sheena at Morrisons and John at Strachans for their support`