Edinburgh teams Hearts, Hibs and Edinburgh City support Festive Friends campaign to help support elderly over Christmas period

Hearts, Hibs, and Edinburgh City have all agreed to join ‘Festive Friends’ this year, a programme put on by the SPFL trust that aims to support elderly people over the Christmas period.

By Liam Smillie
Thursday, 16th December 2021, 4:55 am

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The campaign, which incorporates 41 SPFL clubs, seeks to offer companionship to older, more vulnerable people who can be socially isolated over the holidays.

Edinburgh players will visit socially isolated elderly supporters with gift hampers and offer them company for a while, or invite them to their ground - where they will receive a hot Christmas lunch.

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Lomond the Lion, mascot of SPFL trust with some festive hampers

According to research by Age UK, nearly a million elderly people feel lonelier at Christmas, this is exemplified by the impact of the pandemic, in which many older people will still be shielding.

Hampers contain food, snacks, essential toiletries, gifts, games, and more.

Now in its sixth year, a total of £100,000 has been granted to make the programme happen, meaning it will be able to more than double the people they have reached in previous years.

Festive Friends has been running for six years and has reached nearly 4000 people in the last five years, and will now reach over 3000 people this Christmas period alone.

Last year it wasn’t possible to deliver the standard Festive Friends programme due to the pandemic, so 2800 Christmas hampers were dropped off in socially-distanced doorstop visits.

Nicky Reid, chief executive of the SPFL Trust, said: “Festive Friends is a real highlight of the year for me and my colleagues at SPFL clubs.

“It’s all about good old fashioned Christmas spirit - bringing club staff and volunteers together to reach elderly people who are at risk of social isolation.

“Scottish football is trusted to support, and our recent research shows that almost 83 per cent of people live within ten miles of a SPFL ground - because of this clubs and their associated community trusts are well positioned to effect this type of change in their communities.

“This year 41 SPFL clubs are involved making it our biggest programme yet, supported by a record breaking fund of £100,000. We look forward to supporting more elderly people than ever before, after all kindness never mattered more.”

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