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Casual conversation turns into a game changer

Posted: 17th December 2015

Hibernian was a Club born of social need and sense of community in 1875, to help to integrate Irish migrants fleeing famine in their own land and seeking a fresh start in Scotland’s Capital. That sense of belonging and of community is an ethos that still runs deep in the psyche of the Club, which seeks always to conduct itself and its business professionally and responsibly. We try to do that in all that we do, but nowhere is it more clearly illustrated than through the launch of the Public Social Partnership, GameChanger. Founded following a chat which centred on how the Club might use some of its brand, emotional and physical assets to further embed the Club in its community in Edinburgh, the Lothians and beyond, the PSP now has three founding partners in the Club and NHS Lothian along with the Hibernian Community Foundation. But around 100 other organisations, including local authorities, universities, colleges, and charities, have signed up to get involved. The Club’s assets include the stadium at Easter Road, and our 70 acre training centre near Ormiston in East Lothian. It was when talking with Linda Irvine, Strategic Programme Manager for mental health and well-being at NHS Lothian, that we realised the enormous potential to improve the lives and life chances of many people. In all, more than 250 people and organisations have been engaged in three “gatherings” at Easter Road Stadium and at the Hibernian Training Centre in Ormiston, and these have spawned 350 ideas which a PSP management group has filtered to create programmes that match the key strategic objectives of the Scottish Government – Wealthier and Fairer; Smarter; Healthier; Safer and Stronger; and Greener. The scope and scale of the projects being planned to deliver community benefits is very significant, with medium-to-long-term projects including a health village, a learning and innovation zone, a family centre, and a healthy growing zone. A huge range of other ambitious projects and programmes are also being developed. Key strategic task groups are now being established involving organisations which are well-qualified to deliver, and who have expressed a keen interest in being engaged in the process. These groups will be tasked to take forward more detailed planning and delivery. GameChanger is attracting a lot of interest because it sees football take a very different approach to how it works to benefit its community. It is the first time a Scottish Club has been involved in a Public Social Partnership, and on such a very significant scale.We came from the perspective that the Club has very large physical assets. Clearly these can be utilised in ways that create community benefits if we engage with the right partners, but everyone accepts that engaging with a major football clubs brings much more than that. Football helps gain access to hard-to-reach audiences, it creates high levels of awareness, it touches lives in a way that very few other things in Scotland can match. Our partners are all very excited at the ‘magic dust’ that football can sprinkle on issues that really need our attention. By Leeann Dempster, Chief Executive, Hibernian FC

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