On Friday December 4th Big Hearts Community Trust hosted its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and it was revealed that the charity is in a very strong position heading into 2016 after receiving a significant donation, post year end, which will allow it to accelerate its efforts around supporting families.
For the first time, Big Hearts AGM was open to Hearts’ supporters as well as a wide range of guests including Scottish Government representatives, charity partners, Kinship Carers and Big Hearts’ volunteers.
Chairman Jim Panton revealed that Big Hearts benefited from the significant 6 figure donation as part of the Save the Children deal which Heart of Midlothian agreed, in summer 2015. This income significantly boosted the charity and has helped Big Hearts bring its new ‘family focused’ strategy to life. The initial area of focus as part of this strategy is to provide support to Kinship Care families.
For year ending March 2015 (which does not include the significant donation) the charity reported income of £97,175, largely due to donations and activity revenue. The total reserves stood at £50,472. The role of supporters was crucial with £14,000 raised at the Big Hearts Big Reunion, which provided a significant platform for the charity to build its new strategy.
Caryn Kerr, General Manager, explained some of the work Big Hearts is currently delivering and outlined future plans during her presentation to the guests.
- The Big Hearts’ Kinship Care Programme was launched in October with a highly successful Kinship Family Day.
- The Kinship Care After School Club commenced following this and now runs weekly on Tuesday evenings.
- Big Hearts has also ensured over 40 Kinship Care Families have attended Hearts’ matches since October as a result of its campaign where season ticket holders donate unused tickets.
- In 2016, Big Hearts will launch a unique supporter initiative where all Hearts’ fans will be able to get involved with the charity in some way, however big or small in a manner that suits them. It was stressed that this initiative importantly will not be a financial ask.
- It was also revealed that Big Hearts will continue to support and grow it’s ‘Football Memories’ programme, helping dementia sufferers from in and around Edinburgh.
The AGM Q&A section was particularly moving as Kinship Carers who have been supported by the charity heaped praise on the Kinship Care Programme and explained the amazing impact it has had.
Chairman Jim Panton explained during his address: “Big Hearts is in a very strong place. Our strategy, as announced in late 2014, was to become a charity for ‘families’ and, under our general manager Caryn Kerr, we have made fantastic progress. Our Kinship Care Programme has been a great early success and I am positive this will continue.
“We share the Hearts’ supporter’s joy that the club is on a path to a future that is beaming bright. With that future comes a responsibility and as the club’s official charity we are committed to playing our part.”
General manager Caryn Kerr said: “We have spent most of 2015 preparing to bring our new strategy to life. Kinship Care was identified as our first area of focus and we have set out to provide meaningful support. The Kinship Family Day and the Kinship Care After School Club have both been very well received and feedback from carers has been superb.”
“The challenge now is to engage with even more of the community and ensure Big Hearts continues the great work we have started. We want Hearts’ supporters involved and our new supporter initiative, launching in early 2016, is something we are all very excited about.”