Big Hearts volunteers scoop top European award for community work
Hearts fans have netted a top award for making a difference in their local community, beating off competition from across Europe.
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The club’s registered charity, Big Hearts Community Trust, was voted winner of the ‘More than Football’ community award in European Football by more than 120 football clubs and charities from Liverpool to Latvia.
It comes after the charity saw its supporters help three times more people during the pandemic than previous years, with a 30 per cent increase in volunteers and four new community initiatives launched.
Big Hearts’ general manager, Craig Wilson, said it was a well deserved win for the charity.
"We have seen such an incredible effort from volunteers who helped across many projects, some that were born out of the need to help people at home during the pandemic,” he said.
"Some helped every day by coming into the stadium and making up meals. We got 140,000 meals out to people in need during 2020.
"We did a bi-weekly drop of memory packs as part of our reminiscence project. We had even more volunteers stepping into roles as peer mentors in the men’s mental health project.
“In the past year, Big Hearts Community Trust engaged with over 8,000 adults and children in need. Over 250 dedicated volunteers have stepped up, most recently during the pandemic to help vulnerable groups across the community.”
“The kindness and determination shown by Hearts fans who volunteer with the Club’s official charity is a demonstration of the social power of football and how the beautiful game can create positive outcomes outside the stadium. To be picked by clubs from far and wide, including the big ones that we all know, and to have won is a huge pat on the back for our volunteers. I am heartened that some projects like phone calls to people who are isolated can carry on now and others we can also bring back to life.”
At a conference in the Netherands, the Big Hearts’ volunteering programme was shortlisted with others from FC Twente (Netherlands), the Barça Foundation (Spain), Juventus FC (Italy), Liverpool FC Foundation (England) and PFC Ludogorets (Bulgaria).
The European Football for Development Network (EFDN) aims to gather professional football organisations together to share best practice and promote the power of football as a tool for social development.