The Scottish Government developed ten national standards for community engagement and in these the definition of community engagement is
“Developing and sustaining a working relationship between one or more public body and one or more community groups, to help them both to understand and act on the needs or issues that the community experiences”
Arbroath Football Club are conscious of these standards and use them as guidelines to follow when engaging with the various groups in our community.
The Scottish Governments standards are based on principles which highlight the importance of equality and recognising the diversity of people and communities; a clear sense of purpose; effective methods for achieving change; building on the skills and knowledge of all those involved; commitment to learning for continuous improvement.
In recent seasons the Club has focused on the following particular areas in order to improve Community links with Arbroath FC:
- To give young Arbroath FC supporters a connection with the Club and to give them lifelong memories.
- To give young and vulnerable children and their carers the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed and different day out.
- To give the older members of the community a Saturday football experience.
Working with the Young Arbroath FC Supporters in the Community
The Scottish Governments Antisocial Behaviour Framework sets out a framework for tackling antisocial behaviour. The four pillars of the Framework are: Prevention, Integration, Engagement and Communication
A review identified that there is a need to:
- Place prevention and early and effective intervention at the heart of approaches to tackle antisocial behaviour.
- Address the causes of antisocial behaviour, such as drink, drugs and deprivation, and not just the symptoms.
- Promote positive behaviour and the work of role models and mentors as well as punish bad behaviour in an appropriate, proportionate and timely manner.
- Create more choices and chances for people to succeed, reducing the likelihood of them being involved in antisocial behaviour
- Work better together locally to meet the needs of individuals and communities by integrating services
In relation to some of the above needs Arbroath Football Club has over the past few seasons had regular visits from the local youth football teams including Arbroath Lads Club, St Murdochs, Arbroath Community Sports Club and Carnoustie Football Academy.
The Matchday Experience visits have included free entry to the match, seating in a reserved area in the stand for the team and coaches, a half time kick about on the pitch and refreshments for the players. The youth club coaches attend with their clubs and organise the half time kick abouts on the pitch.
In addition some of the Arbroath FC players have visited the kids, had their photographs taken with the kids, and signed autographs for the youths. It is clear that this part of the day has been particularly popular with the youths.
Working with the Young Vulnerable Members of the Community
The Scottish Government Mental Health Strategy developed “Seven Themes for Mental Health” from a consultation exercise on the mental health strategy. The seven themes increased the emphasis across the mental health and mental health improvement agenda.
Theme No.4 “Extending the anti-stigma agenda forward to include further work on discrimination” is a theme that Arbroath FC and the football industry can certainly play a part in improving the current position.
This theme looks to develop and work further to focus on the experience of discrimination and exclusion that many people with mental illness experience. Arbroath FC recognise this and believe that the good work that has been done with the Angus Special Playscheme helps break down the stigma and discrimination that will assist the Scottish Government in achieving its Mental Health Strategy targets.
Last season Arbroath FC hosted a group of young children from the Angus Special Playscheme and gave the children, and their carers something different. The aim was to provide quality time away from their normal routine and a welcome distraction for the day to day issues that they deal with.
The group arrived at the ground and were met by club officials who gave them a short tour of the ground and following this they then watched the match from their own reserved seats in the stand.
At half time the group was treated to complimentary snacks and refreshments before watching the second half. The icing on the cake for the children was when some of the Arbroath FC players came along and spent some time with them. The look on the children’s faces was worth a million dollars as they got photographs taken and the players autographs.
Working with the Older members of the Community
It was identified that there was no direct relationship between the Arbroath FC and the older population in the town and surrounding area. In particular there was a group of older men who had regularly attended football matches in their earlier years but had drifted away from football for whatever reason. It was discovered that in some cases previous regular attendees and even past season ticket holders at Gayfield had not been to a football match in over 20 years.
Setting aside specific time or days when doing something with an elderly person in care is a good idea. For the senior person, it often proves to be the highlight of their week. It breaks the monotony for them and can calm them down if they have a tendency to get agitated.
The Club in partnership with Arbroath Round Table created and provided a Saturday football experience for the older members of the community. On a match day the group of OAPs were picked up from their home or residential home and brought down to the ground. They were dropped off at the Players and Officials gate and welcomed by club officials. They were then taken to a reserved section of the stand. At half time they were treated to some food and refreshments to keep them going through the second half and at full time they were then driven back to their homes by members of the Round Table.
Arbroath FC will continue to work with the various local groups to continue to develop and improve the relationship that the club has with the community.