Steve Cardownie: Helping Hands’ goals well worth supporting

Ex-footballers including Mickey Weir, Paul Kane and Alan Preston join kids enjoying free football sessions courtesy of Edinburgh Helpign Hands. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Ex-footballers including Mickey Weir, Paul Kane and Alan Preston join kids enjoying free football sessions courtesy of Edinburgh Helpign Hands. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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The organisation Edinburgh Helping Hands is now three months into its latest venture and all the signs are that it is going to be a runaway success.

Fresh from their food bank initiative where, in partnership with North Edinburgh Foodbank, they distributed approximately 24 tonnes of food to the needy throughout Edinburgh, their latest project is gaining momentum.

Councillor Ian Perry, convener of the Education, Children and Families Committee. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

Councillor Ian Perry, convener of the Education, Children and Families Committee. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

Using football as the vehicle throughout four sites in the city, with another three to soon be added, approximately 300 youngsters per week, boys and girls between ages eight-12, are enthusiastically participating in the programme. With no football ability necessary, these youngsters are encouraged to interact with others from their community while gaining self-esteem, respect for others and pride in their community.

Bradley Welsh, one of the organisers, said “interaction, inclusion, healthy lifestyle coupled with physical activity in an effort to widen the participant’s horizons, is our goal”.

Sessions taken by ex-professional players like Allan Preston and Paul Kane, supported by amateur football coaches ensure that the youngsters are well looked after.

At the end of the evening session they are all given a free food bag containing water, fruit and healthy snacks. For the next three weeks Fringe performers will be making a visit to stage a short performance for the kids while they are eating.

Flower power at the Theatre Royl

Flower power at the Theatre Royl

Bradley adds: “With the seven sites fully functional, the aim is to bus up to 400 kids to the Festival of Football, to be held in the Meadows on Sunday 10 September.”

With the Festival season in full swing it is extremely important that activities are undertaken outwith the city centre, particularly in areas that suffer degrees of social deprivation.

Ventures such as these help in engaging local communities, through the medium of football in collective activities which break down social and racial barriers.

The organisers are delighted with the response to date and agree that is has surpassed their expectations. They can already see the impact it has made on the kids’ lives (as well as parents and carers who stay in attendance throughout the sessions).

An unlikely watering hole for three Hibbies in Frankfurt

An unlikely watering hole for three Hibbies in Frankfurt

Bradley Welsh is at great pains to stress that this programme is designed to appeal to everyone: “It is all about self-awareness, respect for others and living and active and health life.”

Details can be found on Facebook or Twitter under “Edi Helping Hands” – and remember it is all for free!

Perry’s tough on education

John Swinney The Scottish Government Education Secretary was recently quoted as saying: “Improving the education of our kids is the defining mission of the SNP.”

It would appear, however, that the sentiments of this statement are not felt as strongly throughout the SNP as he may have hoped.

The City of Edinburgh Council Coalition recently determined the make-up and convenership of its six Executive Committees with Councillor Ian Perry (Labour) being nominated to convene the Education, Children and Families Committee.

This is, of course, the third coalition to form the administration of the council following on from the Liberal Democrat/SNP and the Labour/SNP forerunners. In both of those coalitions the senior party held the convenership of the Education, Children and Families Committee because it was recognised by them just how important this committee was.

In this coalition, the SNP (the major partner with 19 members to Labour’s 12) gave up the position and took the convenership of the Transport and Environment Committee instead.

The current leader of the council, Adam McVey, was previously vice-convener of this committee and the issues it deals with are extremely important to him.

Eyebrows have been raised, however, that given the importance the Scottish Government attaches to the subject of education, how did Labour secure the leadership of the most important committee on this matter in the Capital of Scotland?

It is not as though nobody in the SNP group fancied the job as at least two members had declared an interest as both Cllrs Lewis Ritchie and Alison Dickie were keen on the position.

It is hoped that Cllr Perry will be a success. However, given John Swinney’s statement it would appear that this is a missed opportunity for the SNP.

Blooming great

Congratulations to the Theatre Royal Bar in Leith Street for this magnificent floral display. I am sure it has brightened up the day for many people making their way along one of Edinburgh’s main thoroughfares. Once again – well done!

Three Hibbies walk into a bar . . .

Here’s an incriminating picture of three prominent Hibs supporters outside their favourite “watering hole”, found during a trip to Frankfurt. Ronnie Ferguson (centre) held the Chair of the Hibs Supporters Club for 17 years!