Community partners have been significant to the growth of Street Soccer sessions in Glasgow, which has allowed players to engage in open drop-in session from Monday through to Friday. One of those partners has been the Salvation Army and we spoke to service manager of Eva Burrows 1st Stop Project, David Deans, at the recent Glasgow Summer Cup, to discuss how the partnership has benefitted both organisations.
Located in Cambuslang, Glasgow, Eva Burrows 1st Stop Project provides direct access emergency accommodation for both single individuals and homeless families. Working in partnership with South Lanarkshire Council, the service serves both males and females of all ages with the aim of helping service users transition back in to the community.
With support services in place to help with issues such as alcohol and substance misuse, mental health and physical health, David believes that the long-standing partnership with Street Soccer allows individuals to access both adequate support and an effective solution, pinpointing that it was his clients who first highlighted the success of visiting Street Soccer sessions.
“I’ve been involved with a few different homeless accommodations with Salvation Army and many years ago, there was quite a few boys that came up to Street Soccer from the accommodation I was working within. Some of them were actually with Team Scotland in the Homeless World Cup in Milan. I started listening to the clients as to why they enjoyed coming to Street Soccer, and visited myself. Once some of them had moved on, I continued to bring clients up here as I have always seen the value. We’ve had a great relationship with the guys here, and even when I’ve moved on to a new service, I have always been keen to bring players down who have shown an interest in football. That’s been both guys and girls.”
David discusses how since his move in to the Eva Burrows 1st Stop Project in Cambuslang, staff have noticed vast improvements in service users whilst engaging with Street Soccer.
“I really see the benefit of bringing people here, for example, I have recently introduced Street Soccer to a guy in Eva Burrows and he was struggling with his substance misuse. Since bringing him here, the staff at the accommodation have highlighted a massive change, the substance misuse has come down and he’s looking after himself, eating healthier and everything. That’s because his head is set on the next session. The structure is vital. He’s got that motivation, he wants to be better than last week. There’s a reason for him to get up and look forward to. I’ve also said to this person, these sessions will always been on here Monday to Friday so even when he leaves us, we know he can still access support through Street Soccer. That’s just one example but it’s a really good indication of why football can be so important in making progress.“
With Eva Burrows working to find their clients a positive destination, the turnover of service users at the accommodation can be quite high. David highlights that building new networks at events such as these can be significant in supporting clients across the organisation.
“We are there for anyone at any time. Our aim to move people on to their own private let or supported accommodation when they’re ready, sometimes sheltered housing depending on their health. We focus on working with housing departments to ensure they are getting a stable destination that is right for them, to avoid going through the homeless cycle and coming back to us again.
Today is a great example of how the partnership continues to get stronger. It’s a good bit of fun for the players but also allows me and the players to identify new connections with different organisations in the community. It allows me to build relationships so that I can then pick up the phone and ask for advice to help our clients, and it works the other way too. Other Salvation Army locations are now even coming down to events like these too, just through word of mouth. Accommodations as far as Perth want to come and visit with their clients as they see the benefit.”
With Street Soccer now expanding in to new locations, David discusses how the potential of a new programme in South Lanarkshire would benefit his organisation.
“The closer we are to the sessions, the more we can do with our clients. I think our partnership with Street Soccer has been really inspiring. I see so many clients that have benefitted from visiting sessions, both old and new. They love it. On a personal note, it’s been great for me too. I didn’t kick a ball after leaving school and it’s given me the foundation to come along, meet new people and help more people too. I’ve learned a lot personally and we are all thankful for the support we have received over the years.”
So much can start with a simple kickabout. A visit every Thursday from service users at Eva Burrows has had a great impact so far and the opportunity to come together for more tournaments also excites David, with the organisation placing great value on building bonds as a team.
“It’s just a really good atmosphere, you can come along and have a kickabout without any fear of judgement. I bring the guys here for tournaments and they can be a team, build bonds and friendships. It’s great to see some of the guys generally becoming more healthy and active. We brought a guy last week who hadn’t kicked a ball in 25 years and he was absolutely buzzing! Nightshift said they couldn’t get him to stop talking all night!”
You can find out more about the work Eva Burrows do online, here. If you would like to visit a Street Soccer session, find one near you online.
To find out more about this partnership, or how you can get involved in Glasgow, please contact Ross Alexander on 07480970790.