23rd March 2020
As the nation continues to adapt to the challenges of the Coronavirus, I wanted to write to all parents, carers and guardians of our young people that are a part of our football club in our various community programmes.
First and foremost, the health and wellbeing of our young people is at the core of everything we do, and this is particularly true regarding this current global pandemic.
We will always be guided by the advice of health and science professionals, and when it became clear last week that the situation in Scotland was worsening, we took the decision to postpone our community programmes to see how things developed and to await further advice.
At the moment, it looks like we will not be able to start the physical training programmes back up within the immediate future. However, I believe that football clubs could be in a unique position quite soon to help the nation get back to normality by providing sport and football sessions during the period when schools may be closed. This scenario would only be introduced should there be an agreement from the scientific and health professionals and supported by Scottish Government.
Football clubs can run activities that would enable parents to continue working, particularly those in key services.
We are currently advancing this suggestion to the authorities and we hope that this is something that could happen at the appropriate time. If this was to happen, then priority would of course be given to the current members of our various community programmes. However, we cannot put a date on when we will be able to get the programmes, or the suggestion above, up and running.
In the meantime, we are looking at other ways we can continue to support our programme participants, and we are looking to develop online activities. We are currently developing a plan to run structured small leagues through video game consoles. This would be where we can run a live draw on social media where community members would be drawn ‘cup draw style’ against each other in a league or cup format. The players would have a fixed time to play their online match with the winners progressing. This would keep up social interaction and continue to foster the team spirit within the squads. We are working on other online ideas, and there will be more on these ideas as we develop them.
Whilst our young people are perhaps the most resilient, mental health is a priority and we hope that by continuing the team spirit and contact through an online community programme, we can continue to foster routine, planned activity, and positive bonds with their teams and coaches.
Many of you will have heard about our Community Help Initiative that we launched last weekend. As a community club, we believe we are able to support the most vulnerable in our communities. We put out an appeal for volunteers and we already have over 60 people signed up. We organised a helpline number and a leaflet distribution campaign around homes in the area. We were able to put out over 8,000 leaflets in 24 hours.
From this, we have received a number of calls from people very grateful for the offer of this support. We have also received calls from older people feeling anxious about the Coronavirus, and from people looking for help with things like shopping and basic errands. We have paired them up with a volunteer and I’m pleased to say that we are already providing direct help and support to those that need it. I could not be prouder of everyone involved in this initiative.
Stenhousemuir FC belongs to all of us, therefore we should all take pride from knowing that we are doing good during a very difficult period, particularly for the most vulnerable in our communities.
I know a number of parents and guardians have been in touch with the club already, and some are active in the Community Initiative. Many of the calls we have received have been very positive.
A good number of people have already indicated that they intend to maintain their standing order for their young people in the community programme during this difficult period, and we hope that our emerging online programme will help fill the physical gap. We’ve even had one or two offering to increase their payment so that the programme will be there once this is all over. This type of support is fantastic, and I cannot thank everyone enough for this positive commitment. It may only be £5 a week, but it makes the difference in protecting jobs, keeping the programmes viable for when we can return, and it supports our Community Help Initiative as all our full time coaches are currently working in the community on that.
It has been well documented that all football clubs will face challenging times over the coming weeks and months, particularly financially. We expect our income to drop considerably due to the reduction in activity. We will do all we can to ensure the club survives and that our programmes get back up and running. The club has been a part of this community since 1884, and we will do everything we can to survive this horrendous and difficult period.
We will do everything we can to protect staff, including the community coaches that organise and deliver our football activity for our young people.
Once again, a big thank you to those parents and guardians who have already indicated that they intend to support the club by maintaining their standing order during this difficult time. We do however appreciate that not every parent or guardian may be willing or able to maintain the funding. If this is the case, do please contact the club and let us know so we can update our records.
Finally, I do hope that everyone does everything they can to keep themselves and their families safe and well during this pandemic. If there is any assistance we can provide, or you know of anyone vulnerable in the community that might need some additional help or support, do just let us know.
I have every confidence that we will all get through this difficult time, so do stay safe and look out for others.
Chairman – Stenhousemuir FC