How Big Hearts are using 'power of football' to help refugees and asylum seekers
The annual Big Hearts Day will take place at Tynecastle Park on Saturday for the Premiership match with Livingston and it is one which will resonate even more with the current Russian invasion in Ukraine.
The sixth year of the event is raising funds and awareness for the organisation's 'Welcome Through Football' project which uses the sport as a gateway to help refugee and asylum seekers aged 7-25 and recently arrived in Edinburgh.
Big Hearts, the official charity of the football team, supports the social inclusion and access to education of around 70 refugee and asylum seekers.
In addition, part of the proceeds raised will go to the European Football for Development Network Appeal for Shakhtar Donetsk in their efforts to transform the Lviv Stadium in West Ukraine into a Shelter Centre.
There will be events pre-match at Tynecastle, while the first-team will wear a special edition of the third kit.
"Welcome through football is one of our newer projects," Craig Wilson, general manager of Big Hearts, told the Evening News. “Literally playing as often as we can then we move into how can we support them with employment, how can we support them with life skills, how can we support them when they have a bond and can bring them closer to other bits of culture in Scotland.
"It certainly starts with the ball on the park and then they become a group who go through a range of experiences together. Football plays its part in the welcome, the universal language.
“It is probably easier for people to understand, more than ever before. It’s one which resonates with everyone, life turned upside down.”