The reason I chose to become a St. Patrick’s Branch member is simple-the Branch is proactive. I am in awe of the work that has been carried out so far and for those projects which are planned for the future. In my opinion, they are as near to the original aims of Hibernian Football Club as you will get
It was with this concept in mind that I felt compelled to start a fund called Leith Links, which aims to help children who would not normally have the chance,to join the Hibee family. It came about on the back of joining the ‘Let’s Work Together’ group of Hibs fan’s who have and who are currently trying to forge better and stronger links between the fans and the club.
I had long thought that the excellent Kicks for Kids scheme run by the club was slightly prohibitive as you require £150 upfront so one ST can be purchased for a child and one for the adult to accompany them. Therefore, I approached Hibs and asked if it was possible for them to accept one-off donations and/or Direct Debits but the answer was ‘no’. However, it was put to me that perhaps I could open an account and see how I got on? So I did. By fundraising, advertising on various Hibs forums/sites and appealing to fellow Hibs fans, near and far, the fund has raised over £2,000 since August, meaning that 22 Kick for Kids tickets have been purchased-so far! The number of Direct Debits and standing orders which have been set-up is growing steadily and a recent sponsorship has ensured that all monies raised will go towards purchasing the tickets and therefore not be diluted by administration costs.
The tickets have been distributed between Maggies Centre, Pentland Community Centre, Kids in Care, Magdalene Community Centre, St. Ninians Youth Club, Richmond’s Hope Children’s Counselling Centre, Multi-Cultural Family Base (MCFB) and the Canongate Youth Project. These are all causes which are close to the Hibee family’s heart so it was gratifying to be able to give something back.
One of the groups really grabbed my attention-MCFB. Their aim is to encourage more participation in football from children in the Black Minority Ethnic community. On the back of a lovely email thanking me for the gift of the tickets, I received an invitation to attend a reception at the Scottish Parliament being held by the MSP Malcolm Chisholm, celebrating MCFB’s initiative which celebrates inclusion through football. I was astounded to hear of the barriers these children faced: racism, funding issues, lack of clothing/equipment, family prejudices etc but not only did MCFB dispel these fears-they are gradually breaking down the barriers and helping to ensure these children are part of the very fabric of life down Leith way.
After the event, I was approached by the Chairperson and Project Leader and invited to help them form a more permanent partnership between MCFB and Hibs which I readily accepted. Since emailing the club, Hibs have offered to work more closely with the group, offered a chance to do the ‘ten second challenge’ on the pitch at half-time and they have promised more input from the players’ through to the community staff. I have also managed to secure them a sponsor (the same Leith-based company who very generously sponsors Leith Links) so that is hopefully another successful partnership about to be forged.
As this letter goes out, we will be in the process of holding a Christmas auction, which we hope will raise even more funds. Irvine Welsh has kindly donated two signed books and countless other items have been donated by very generous members of the Hibs family
We have also had an article published in The Leither magazine which was then picked up by the Edinburgh Reporter, which has helped ‘spread the word’ and attract extra donations:
At the start of this endeavour, I envisaged a few more deserving children would get to enjoy going to Easter Road and experience the delight of going to Hibs games like I did at a young age and thereby join the Hibs family. Little did I imagine that an opportunity would present itself, like it did to our forefather’s back in the 1800’s, to help integrate other members of the community into the wonderful world of Hibernian Football Club.