Young people from multicultural communities in South West Edinburgh are seeing the benefits of football and healthy food thanks to a community project.
Big Hearts Community Trust, the charity of Heart of Midlothian F.C, launched its Together Equality Achieves More (T.E.A.M) Project two years ago to promote social inclusion in communities near Tynecastle Park.
In partnership with Edinburgh based charity Multi-Cultural Family Base, who bring expertise in reaching out to various local communities including refugees, the project aims to help children build social skills and stay physically active whilst providing participants with healthy food.
The programme was boosted earlier this year when it received £47,777 from the Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity Fund to support the project for two years. The programme is among 17 projects to benefit from the £1m fund, delivered by the Scottish Government, sportscotland, Spirit of 2012 and The Robertson Trust with the aim of changing lives and creating a more inclusive and healthier nation.
The money will help grow the project in South West Edinburgh, one of the most socially and culturally diverse communities in Scotland, to support 40 children by 2020. Over 28 different languages are spoken at Dalry Primary School, located just over a mile away from Tynescastle Park where the sessions take place.
The T.E.A.M project offers local school pupils who are identified as vulnerable or isolated the chance to improve their emotional wellbeing and make new friends in their community.
The team delivering the weekly 90-minute session is made up of staff from Big Hearts and Multi-Cultural Family Base, along with two sessional youth workers and a Big Hearts volunteer.
The sessions involve 45 minutes of football-based activities on the community pitch at Tynecastle Park, a healthy snack followed by 45 minutes of group games or creative activities.
There are young people from Dalry Primary School, Longstone Primary School, Broughton High School, St Ninian’s Primary School and Tynecastle High School currently involved in T.E.A.M.
Chief executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said: “We see time and again that sport has the power to change lives and being physically active is one of the best things we can do for our physical and mental health.
“At sportscotland young people are at the heart of what we do, we believe that young people should have a voice in sport, this project is an excellent example of that.
“The work Big Hearts Community Trust and Multi-Cultural Family Base are doing is making a meaningful difference to young people in South West Edinburgh.
"We are delighted to have been able to support that though the Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity Fund.”
Craig Wilson, Big Hearts General Manager said: “Football is a universal language and by playing together at Tynecastle Park every week, the young people involved in Big Hearts’ T.E.A.M project get to grow in confidence and build new friendships in their local community.
“Over the past two years, the programme has played a key-part in our charity’s ambitions to improve outcomes of young people identified as isolated in South West Edinburgh. We are delighted that sportscotland is supporting us on this journey via the Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity Fund which will enable Big Hearts to support 40 local school pupils in 2020.”