Street Soccer Scotland have recently started a promising new partnership with Lodging House Mission in the East End of Glasgow, to support more players who may be experiencing homelessness or social exclusion.
The Lodging House Mission building is a homeless day centre, formerly a soup kitchen which supported all the local lodging houses in the east end. We spoke with Mark Smyth, who has been working on the activities programme within the charity, about the inception of our partnership and what’s involved.
“The Lodging House Mission has over 100 years experience in helping disadvantaged people get their lives back on the right track. We, like Street Soccer, want to make a positive difference to people’s lives. Since coming in to my role, we have had a real focus on engaging those that use are services, as well as supplying them with the resources they may need.”
Mark, a former player at Street Soccer sessions in Glasgow, approached programme coordinator Jamie MacLean at Powerleague Glasgow to see how Street Soccer could support the Lodging House Mission’s activity programme.
“I always keen to introduce football in to our programme, we have a large hall area upstairs but it had a few logistical issues. Jamie offered the chance to bring the pop-up pitch in December and we’ve went from strength to strength since then.”
Jamie now offers a free football session in their premises from 11am onwards every Monday, as well as bringing players from the Lodging House Mission to Street Soccer’s open drop-in session every Thursday.
“Its been great to partner up. I remember going to the sessions with Ally Dawson and David Duke and you always felt that warm welcome. Its still the same and that’s what I like about Street Soccer, you always feel like you belong there. Our participants are now benefitting from that too.”
As well as football, service users are also offered boxercise, pool, cycling and more as part of Mark’s activity programme.
“This used to just be a place where people used to come for a bit of food or shelter. Since new management have came in, we want to engage as much as we can with those who need our support. There are a lot of rough sleepers in the area and we want them to know we can help. Whether that’s a bit of food, a place to shower as well as a place to get involved in sport and get fit.”
Mark notes how the work from the charity is ‘frontline’, with those from addiction, mental health and social isolation all benefitting from a range of programmes across the week.
“We are fully inclusive to support those that need our help and having strong partners like Street Soccer really elevates that. We want to have a social care influence, that’s the most important thing. People come in here with problems and we want to help them on their journey for positive change.”
With the partnership developing since starting in 2021, Mark and his colleagues are keen to find new opportunities to give individuals a sense of hope.
“Sport is a great way for us to overcome some of the barriers our participants face. I was speaking to one of the guys from the Change Centre in Dundee and we are looking in to a day-trip up to the facility, which would be a really positive experience for our guys and girls.”
You can find out more about the Lodging House Mission online. If you feel that your organisation could benefit from a local partnership in Glasgow, please contact Jamie MacLean on 07487603696 or Ross Alexander on 07480970790