Taking a million steps to supporting Scotland’s most vulnerable in lockdown - Heart of Midlothian clocks up amazing results as volunteers produce close to 138,000 food parcels at Tynecastle.
Amidst the turmoil that beset Scottish football during lockdown, Heart of Midlothian has quietly been supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the community. The Club realised that its kitchens, which cater for up to 1,400 people on match day and at conferences, throughout the year, could quickly be repurposed to an industrial-scale food production unit to support the pioneering work of Social Bite.
Under the leadership of Hearts Head of Hospitality, Graeme Pacitti, a team of volunteers from the Club and its charity, Big Hearts, set up an impressive production line that saw food being prepared and packed into bags to be distributed around Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife.
The statistics are impressive. Since lockdown began, the team at Tynecastle has produced 137,800 food parcels using 19,686 loaves, 6,890 kg of sandwich fillings and tens of thousands of drinks, pieces of fruit and cakes and biscuits.
Volunteers have worked a total of 2,912 hours and clocked up an incredible 1,092,000 steps since lockdown started.
Graeme Pacitti commented:
“We are pleased that we have been able to support Social Bite’s efforts to feed thousands of people who have found themselves in the most difficult of circumstances during lockdown. It is testament to the loyalty of our supporter base that we have been able to draw on so many volunteers to scale up production to such an impressive level.”
Since lockdown begun a huge amount of work has as gone on behind the scenes to support children, families and older people who have been worst affected in the pandemic.
The Big Hearts charity has made over 2,000 phone calls to older supporters suffering social isolation. Once again volunteers, including club legend John Colquhoun, have dedicated thousands of hours to supporting the Club’s community efforts.
The charity successfully moved a number of its programmes online at the start of lockdown and has been operating a mental health support line, providing assistance for kinship care families and a focal point for those most at risk through loneliness & poverty.
The Club’s innovative Digital Education clubs have also transitioned online and has attracted 300 new participants from Wick to London. Given the disproportionately detrimental effect that COVID is inflicting on young people, Hearts have placed a renewed focus on supporting employability.
Director of Community & Partnerships, Ann Park, commented:
"One of the main aims of our Digital Education Programme has been to address inequality of opportunity in Scotland’s successful technology sector. Our partnership with Scotland Women in Technology is helping to tackle the lack of representation of women and we are redoubling efforts to support young people from economically challenged backgrounds.
"The pandemic has only served to amplify the disadvantage they are facing and they risk being left even further behind. We plan to develop our existing Digital Career Clubs further and are building new partnerships with farsighted organisations in the corporate and third sectors to boost their reach.
"Football Clubs are uniquely positioned to reach out to and inspire the broadest cross-section of society and are a brilliant focal point for galvanising the collective will of our wider community to support those most in need.”