Each month, we will be focusing on a key partner to celebrate the power of partnerships. Street Soccer would not be in the same place it is today if it were not for some of our amazing partners across Scotland. By working together, we can make a bigger difference.
YMCA Edinburgh are a charity who work closely with children and young people in the capital, providing structured programmes and a safe space for young ones to develop. By offering play schemes, holiday clubs and after school/youth clubs, YMCA are able to help children thrive in a positive and welcoming environment. We spoke to Association Manager, Mike Kerracher, to discuss how the partnership with Street Soccer has benefitted the charity.
“Street Soccer provide a sports structure to our holiday playschemes, where local young people come during holiday periods to take part in free to access play sessions. Many of the young people face barriers to accessing other provisions with costs involved and these sessions help overcome that, with free lunch as well as links to other support systems which may help families address food insecurity. We have really benefitted from this partnership.”
Mike highlights how the partnership has developed since beginning in 2017, with mentoring opportunities now available for young people in the programme.
“Working together, we provide holistic support to individuals. By sharing each organisations key skills, we are able to provide positive role models to young people. This has helped in learning more about one another’s services and signposting where appropriate and we believe these experiences will have lifelong lasting positive changes to those accessing one-to-one mentoring with Street Soccer staff and volunteers.”
The mentoring work has been available to a number of young people participating in YMCA programmes and Mike highlights that for certain individuals this has been life-changing. With Street Soccer’s team in Edinburgh, led by Robbie Wood, continuing to find new ways to support the local community, Mike believes that their own relationship with Street Soccer staff is valued right across the organisation.
“We value the strong personal relationships with key staff on the ground who have a genuine desire to help others. This makes the difference. We would be keen to further develop mentoring work in partnership. Robbie has been the driving force for much of the work we have done together and I can’t thank him enough.”
Due to the pandemic, YMCA had a growing need to support the community with food supplies. Working together with Street Soccer, Mike underlines how significant the partnership was in ensuring that the outreach had the desired impact.
“The rapid and hugely impactful response during the pandemic was a highlight. At a time when statutory services appeared too slow to respond, the flexibility of our organisations were able to quickly meet needs in a considered way. Rather than signpost people to other services, we benefitted from maintaining and building on the relationships with our members to help them in different ways.
We partnered to provide a meals and essentials service supporting local community members with food over 18 months. YMCA’s centre was the hub for this work and Street Soccer accessed funds for the supplies and committed huge levels of staffing and volunteer time.”
With restrictions easing across Scotland, Street Soccer and YMCA continue to focus on ways to support the local community. With an aim on providing hope through the power of sport, Street Soccer staff offer a range of activities as part of seasonal playschemes. With Easter round the corner, Mike highlights the importance of having strong partners in order for growth.
“The partnership between Street Soccer Scotland and YMCA Edinburgh is cemented by the integrity of the intent in both organisations involved. We have continually collaborated to see where either between us or indeed together we can meet the needs of those we connect with. This work with Street Soccer Scotland has taken place across all YMCA projects and helped improve the variety of activities on offer and supports available to members of our community. We are both in a better place because of it.”