Arbroath FC Community Trust – Comment from Shelley Hague, Chairman

Known throughout Angus from her role at Angus Council, Shelley for the last eleven years has also been involved in supporting social enterprise, levering funding into the area and making Angus a great place, to live, work and visit.

Shelley is no stranger to football having played for the Barry girls team for six years back in the 90’s and is also a winner having lifted the North East Scotland Cup!

With her passion for Arbroath, the local community and eradicating poverty, Shelley is a devoted Red Lichtie.

We talked to Shelley to find out more about the Trust’s work with partners including the SPFL Trust, Penumbra, Angus Carers, Women’s Aid, Local Food Banks, Schools, Voluntary Action Angus, NHS Tayside and local sports clubs.
 Shelley explains: One of our partners, Penumbra, is the Angus health and wellbeing support contractor. They have a project called the Angus Novo services which is available to anyone over the age of 16 who is facing a mental health crisis or challenge or just needs some support.

We asked Penumbra, through the SPFL Trust Festive Friends at Home 2020 programme, if any of the people they’re working with would benefit from a hamper filled with food and other essentials and they gave us four names.

We also asked for referrals from Tayside Council on Alcohol (TCA) and they also helped us to reach the people who were most at need.

One young woman in her mid-20s who had been made homeless during the pandemic received a hamper from Festive Friends at Home. She was on her own in an unfurnished flat, which didn’t even have carpets. She only had the bare basics and no money without anyone to support her.

It was really shocking to see the levels of poverty in the area and reinforced to us why we do what we do.
When we delivered the hampers we made a point of spending time with each person and to signpost them to further sources of help and support if needed. 

On the back of our visit to this young woman she was able to tap into other services that have helped her to furnish the flat. She now also receives regular food packages and we told her where she can get mental health support.

She hadn’t wanted to ask for help. It wasn’t a pride thing, it was more because she felt she wasn’t deserving. She asked us ‘why should I get this?’ but for me it was a no brainer, and of course she should get this.

It’s rare for someone to just have one challenge in their life, usually if someone is homeless they may also have an addiction issue or mental health challenge. We need to offer people wraparound support and not just give them a place to live and let them get on with it.

A person can end up homeless again very quickly if they’re not given the right ongoing support.

I think it’s just about taking that wider ‘being kind’ approach – and not just giving a person some tablets and thinking that will solve the problem. We need ask people what else do they actually need? Is it a financial issue they face or do they need to speak to a counsellor? We all need to be more inclusive with people and not just tick boxes and move on to the next person.

We are a relatively new Trust, we only launched last November, and we’re starting to explore what the local needs are by consulting with local people. We know that some are experiencing mental health crisis so we want to utilise the tools that Penumbra and other support services have on offer using the power of the badge and the love of football to start the conversation. 

We aim to run campaigns throughout the year to let men know about local mental health services. For example, in March we have a ‘walk and Blether’.  We know the suicide rate for men is higher so we’d like to give them the ability to talk to friends about how they are feeling, join online support forums or go for walks with support groups etc 

We are doing our bit to eradicate period poverty, in Angus people can sign up to three months of products as part of the wider campaign throughout Angus. We also include the products when we make up food parcels.

We’ve also been working with Community Spirit Food Hub, a food parcel project run in partnership with Stirfresh and NHS Tayside.  We have delivered lots of soup bags to people in need in the community. Many single fathers have needed this support because they are looking after their children more often while their ex-partner works full-time as a key worker.
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