Shortlisted Project “Big Hearts Supporters Movement” will be presented by Craig Wilson
Craig Wilson, General Manager at Big Hearts Community Trust (Heart of Midlothian FC), is the next confirmed speaker at our 16th EFDN Conference in Breda on 9 & 10 November 2021.
Craig Wilson is the General Manager at Big Hearts, the official charity of Heart of Midlothian FC in Edinburgh. Craig initially got involved as a volunteer before joining the staff team in order to build new relationships with fans of the Club. Since 2018 Craig has played a pivotal role in establishing Big Hearts as a trusted charity working closely with local partners and football fans to create positive social outcomes. Under his leadership, the organisation has launched an ambitious three-year strategy focusing on social connections, positive mental health and equal opportunities.
Craig Wilson will be presenting on the topic of the shortlisted “Big Hearts Supporters Movement” project which is shortlisted for the 2021 #Morethanfootball Award. The Big Hearts Supporters’ movement enables any Hearts’ fans to support vulnerable people in their community through the Club charity. This initiative is breaking new grounds in Scottish football with fans completing thousands of volunteering hours every year to make a difference on behalf of their favourite club. In one of the most deprived areas of Edinburgh, the project is helping supporters in their own journey towards employment, new friendships or mental wellbeing. Big Hearts Supporters played a vital role in our capacity to navigate throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with new innovative ways to provide emergency support to groups most vulnerable.
BIG HEARTS – THE BIG HEARTS SUPPORTERS’ MOVEMENT
Big Hearts Supporters are a leading light in Scottish football and remain at the centre of everything that Big Hearts does. On average every year, they contribute to more than 4,000 hours of meaningful support changing the lives of hundreds of vulnerable adults and children. In 2020 amidst the pandemic, over 145 brand-new Big Hearts Supporters stepped up to volunteer with us. In the first six months of lockdown, our charity had supported 8,000 vulnerable people – three times more than in the previous 12 months. The determination and kindness from Hearts fans enabled us to create new initiatives, where volunteers could get involved safely whilst providing vital support to groups most at risk of Covid-19.
- 2,000+ welfare phone calls to older people isolated in their homes. One of the volunteers involved wasthe Head coach of the Heart of MidlothianWomen’sTeam.
- 138,000+ packed meals prepared for homeless groups in Edinburgh.
- 4,100+ printed reminiscence parcels for fans living with dementia.A new team of Gazette contributors was set up to write inspiringstories and recollections from good old days.
- 1,200+ tailored presents donated and distributed for Christmas.
- 400+ hours of peer support to fans via video chats. 5 of the most popular Hearts’ podcasts decided to open Zoom calls to fans for a chance to speak together twice a week during lockdown.
These are only a few examples of how the movement played a vital role in the club’s capacity to navigate through the pandemic and ensure those who need our help most get the support they deserved. With the fans not being able to attend the games in the Stadium, Big Hearts Supporters felt great pride in having the opportunity to be able to do something good in their community, at the most difficult of times, whilst representing their favourite football Club.
The winner of the More than Football Award 2021 receives not only recognition for having implemented the most innovative and impactful Community and Social Responsibility programme in European football, but also wins a complete branded Mini-Pitch System modular sports solution which will be developed in partnership between the winning organisation, EFDN, and sponsor Musco Lighting.