In the week that the SPFL Trust’s Legacy 2014 Report was released, Sports Marketing Scotland spoke to the charity’s General Manager, Nicky Reid to get more of an insight into the findings and results.

SPFL clubs, or their community trusts, were invited to apply for an £11,000 grant, funded by the Scottish Government through their sponsorship of the Scottish League Cup. If you want to read the full report, head here, or click on the image below.

SPFL Trust Legacy 2014 Report

Just explain a little bit of background behind the SPFL Trust, and your role with the charity?

The SPFL Trust is independent registered charity associated with the Scottish Professional Football League. We work in partnership Scotland’s 42 professional clubs and external agencies to promote, support, fund and administer activities which inspire SPFL clubs to help meet the identified social needs of the people of Scotland. Professional football clubs work directly with local communities – your communities – and our purpose is to use football’s unique presence to assist Scotland’s people to achieve their goals and improve their life chances. Our vision is to work with SPFL clubs to use the unique power of football to engage with communities.

As General Manager, it is my responsibility to ensure that the Trust delivers on its new five year strategy, that we secure grant funding opportunities for programme delivery across Scotland that meets national strategic outcomes; and that we work with clubs of all sizes to increase their capacity for community engagement.

The Legacy 2014 Report has just been released, with results from the Scottish Government’s funding of the 2013/14 Scottish League Cup. Tell us a bit about the process at the time of securing the grant, and putting the plan into action?

When the Scottish Government came in to support the Scottish League Cup we started a conversation around the Commonwealth Games and plans to ensure a strong, positive legacy. Our funding was provided as part of the Legacy 2014 programme.

Every club was invited to apply for a fixed £11,000 grant, from the fund. The key thing was we wanted the club (or its registered charity) to identify where there was community need. We felt that for a first project on this scale we needed to focus on what we could do to tackle inequality, but that can obviously mean many different things.

For example, you see in the report that a significant number of our clubs are in high ranking areas on the Scottish Government’s on the Scottish Index of Multiple Depravation (SIMD).

SPFL Trust Legacy 2014 Report

It’s remarkable that all 42 clubs in the SPFL at the time got involved. It must have been a serious amount of effort on the SPFL Trust’s part to aid and assist the clubs in their chosen projects?

The administration, monitoring and evaluation of the League Cup Fund was the first time that the Trust had delivered a project like this across all clubs. It was quite a task, requiring meticulous planning, effective communication with clubs and the ability to be supportive.

Our goal was for as many people as possible to directly benefit from the Legacy Funding and so we also worked with clubs to overcome challenges. We had initially thought the full project would be completed within a year, but given the nature of some of the individual programmes run across the country, and the infrastructure needed to support them, some initiatives took longer.

Using football for good in their communities is something all clubs should be doing. Why do you believe it took this funding to give some clubs a bit of a nudge when it comes to engaging their communities in this way?

I don’t think it did take this funding to give clubs a nudge. A separate recent report shows that 100% of SPFL clubs engage in community activities out with a match day and that last season alone, they worked with 710,000 people (13% of the population).

The level at which clubs are delivering community activities vary depending on a number of things, interestingly though, league position is not always one of them. What I was encouraged by when running this particular programme, was that ALL clubs wanted to do something, and do. What this fund did do was to provide a platform from which we can demonstrate the collective power of Scottish Football in these kinds of activities., under one initiative.

This collective impact is a driving factor for us in seeking more, significant, funding to support the country’s national priorities. If this is what we can do with £500,000, imagine what we can do with more, over a longer term period. The potential is limitless.

How vital do you think the mental health first aid training that was provided as part of the grant will be in the long run?

The implementation of the Mental Health First Aid training came as a result of two key factors:

  • 1 in 4 adults will experience mental health problems in their lives, with suicide being the biggest killer of men under 40.
  • We were conscious that clubs are now delivering more and more initiatives that deal with social issues, and so the people they will be working with on a daily basis would be potentially more likely to be dealing with their own mental health issues.

We know that football has the power to engage with those who are harder to reach and so we wanted to equip coached with the skills to provide initial help, prevent a problem from getting work, promote the recovery of good mental health and provide them with tools for giving comfort.

We have now had over 70 coaches take part in the NHS Mental Health First Aid training, which we tailored to include examples of things they may be more likely to come across in the football setting.

Feedback has already shown that our coaches now feel empowered to handle some of the difficult situations they might face, whilst widening their understanding of mental health as a whole to better meet the needs of those they work with. For us, this can only be a good thing.

The numbers fluctuate from club to club, but in total, over 30,000 people interacted with their local clubs. How important was it to properly measure the success of the programmes in order to report back on the success?

As a charity, we are obligated to ensure that whatever funding we distribute is effectively and efficiently spent on achieving the agreed outcomes. This is something we do on all of our projects and this was no different. We agreed a set of evaluation requirements with all clubs based on their project. This allowed us to pull together the Legacy 2014 Report, and show the real collective power of football.

Promoting healthy eating, the introduction of the Football Fans in Training programme, running school camps and a project to help those with dementia and Alzheimer’s are just a selection of what was on offer to the communities surrounding our football clubs. If you had to pick one, which one of the programmes made you most proud?

There were such a wide variety of projects delivered that it would be difficult to pick just one. I think one of the things I am most proud of is the way the team at the Trust administered the full project. It was the first time we had worked with all clubs across one particular project in this way and the task was enormous. I am really proud of the final report, for all that it signifies and all the work that it represents across clubs and the Trust.

For our clubs, I am proud of that we can highlight their work in such a high profile manner. Some of the so-called smaller clubs in the country delivered remarkable work, engaging hundreds – even thousands – of people in their communities. When you see clubs like Montrose, Stranraer, Annan Athletic and Albion Rovers alongside Aberdeen, Celtic, and Rangers (amongst others) you can see the power of Scottish football as a whole.

SPFL Trust Legacy Report 2014

The funding enabled some clubs to create full time and volunteer opportunities, while accredited qualifications were also gained by individuals taking part in the programmes. Clubs are giving people the chance to better themselves with employability skills, which will have secondary benefits too. How does this fit in with the goals of not just the SPFL Trust, but also the aims of the Scottish Government and the grant they awarded?

This is as good question! One of the key areas of work for the Trust is attainment; whether it be life skills, qualifications, employment, quality of life. We talk about “building capacity” which is a very corporate charity term, but the point is that by strengthening people’s skills, and the belief in themselves you can do more, be more.

The creation of jobs, volunteer posts and qualification has a direct impact on that. Being successful, whatever that means to different people, impacts other key areas such as a person’s health, their confidence to take part in society and even the economy. Getting this bit right, is a vital legacy of the programme.

In the seasons prior to the report, how have the clubs got on with continuing the good work enabled by the government grant?

Community engagement across clubs has gone from strength to strength. Within the next six months we will likely hit the point where half of all our clubs have their own charities to deliver community engagement, showing a real wider commitment to the communities they serve.

Delivery has expanded in number but also in the types of areas being addressed. No longer are clubs simply focusing on participation in football, whilst this is without doubt a key area. Our clubs and their charities are confident and capable of delivering across a range of social areas such as Education, Employability, Health, Justice, Community Cohesion. And they do so on a daily basis.

What’s next for the SPFL Trust to continue to capitalise on the positive results from the report?

The report gives us an excellent resource that clearly evidences the ability of the Trust to deliver large scale projects across Scotland. We will continue to deliver projects and seek funding for new ones. What we want to say, is that we, the SPFL Trust and all our clubs are here, ready, willing and able to delivery staggering positive outcomes that meet a whole host of national strategic objectives.

And not only that – we can do it brilliantly!