IT’S the Capital football team that’s proving it’s all heart – in more than just name.
More than 100 families flocked to Tynecastle to mark the launch of a new drive aimed at supporting children who are looked after by relatives or close family friends.
The pioneering Kinship Care Programme – run by the Big Hearts charity – seeks to use “the power of the club’s crest” to better support vulnerable “kinship” families across the city and the surrounding area.
And the ambitious scheme got off to a flying start during yesterday’s family day, which saw football coaching, music tuition, games and stadium tours for the children – as well as stalls boasting a wide range of information for their carers.
Excited youngsters even got to meet their footballing heroes as striker Soufian El Hassnaoui and midfielder Arnaud Djoum both turned up to chat and pose for photos.
Craig Wilson, Big Hearts fundraising officer, said the “fantastic” event would act as a “launch pad” for a range of projects aimed at supporting kinship families.
A weekly after-school youth club will begin next Tuesday – with a support group for carers also on hand to provide them with help, advice and friendship.
Meanwhile, free music tuition will give youngsters between the ages of 12 and 18 the opportunity to learn an instrument, with two tutors running lessons in everything from drumming to guitar.
Another key scheme will see Hearts season ticket holders able to “donate” their tickets to vulnerable families when they can’t attend individual games themselves.
The after-school club will be run in partnership with leading kinship care charity Mentor.
Heather McVeigh, director of Mentor Scotland, said: “We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Big Hearts to drive forward the awareness and support for kinship care families.
“It is fantastic that a major football club is using its credence to promote kinship care and provide opportunities and activities that many kinship children and carers would never be able to access.”
Caryn Kerr, Big Hearts general manager, said she was “delighted” to have launched the “flagship” programme with yesterday’s family day.
Earlier this year Hearts became the first club in the UK to have the name of a charity emblazoned on their strip after announcing a seven-figure partnership deal with Save the Children.
City rivals Hibs are also well known for their fundraising efforts through the Hibernian Community Foundation.