A collage of the work of Dundee United Community Trust to support to the community during the Covid-19 pandemic

Published: 11th January 2021

Dundee United and its Community Trust (DUCT) have spent the past ten months “United Against Covid”. The Trust has worked with a number partners and funders to provide support to those in our community who have needed it most.

Highlighted in today’s Covid-19 Impact Report published by the SPFL Trust, Dundee United Community Trust launched My Home Team – a project designed to tackle the effects of isolation, loneliness and the impact Covid-19 has had on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

My Home Team saw the Trust make and receive over two thousand phone calls which supported 618 people, and a group of 13 took part in weekly Zoom meetings led by DUCT staff. The Trust supported Dundee Bairns, a charity set up to tackle food poverty, by making Tannadice a safe and accessible point for local residents to collect pre-packed meals. This assistance led to Dundee Bairns handing out 2,140 lunches over an eight-week period.

Scotland's Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing Mairi Gougeon praised the vital role of community trusts like ours in helping communities cope with the crisis: “I recognise this has been an enormously challenging time for the football community, as well as the country as a whole.

“It’s fantastic that the community trusts, and associated SPFL clubs have risen to the challenge and provided vital support and service to their local communities, demonstrating how sport can play a pivotal role in Scotland’s recovery during this unprecedented time.”

While the My Home Team project was significant, it was merely a part of the work of the Trust and Club throughout the initial lockdown period. Trust staff adapted to deliver football sessions online for children. These sessions gave the children the chance to see their coaches, their friends and take part in an organised football session. At its peak, 24 sessions were being delivered each week to our members and the public.

With the news that schools were set to re-open, the Trust got to work on creating Pick Me Up Packs for 100 local primary school children who, for a variety of reasons, found lockdown particularly challenging and had been identified as those who were in need of a pick-me-up. The packs consisted of a Dundee United FC school bag, four DUFC themed activity booklets, a copy of Lucy’s Blue Day: Children’s Mental Health Book, Dundee United FC merchandise (pencil case, pen, pencil, diary and wristbands) and a selection of items that encouraged positive oral health.

In addition to the DUFC themed activity booklets being made public, the Trust created two exercise booklets specifically for early years and those over the age of 65. Both booklets contained simple exercises that could be done without leaving the house and that, if done daily, would help improve balance, co-ordination and core strength.

In the build-up to Halloween, DUCT reached out to school and family development workers to provide 100 Halloween packs to local children. The packs were filled with treats, DIY decorations and two pints of milk, with the empty carton then being used as part of the DIY decorations.

With Covid affecting every charity, the Trust donated 30 hours of staff time to Tay FM’s & Cash For Kids’ Mission Christmas appeal and prizes to their auction. Trust staff supported other volunteers in preparing gifts to be distributed in the regional appeal that would see 3,842 children helped across Tayside and Fife. In addition to supporting the Mission Christmas appeal, Trust staff also supported the Hilltown Community Larder.

The year’s Festive Friends also had to be adapted, with a three-day effort taking place on 23-25 December instead of the traditional Christmas Day meal at Tannadice Park. A team of 20 volunteers supported the delivery of 148 chilled meals over the three days with 72 hot meals being delivered on Christmas Day. In additional to the meals, 154 bags of groceries were also delivered to residents in Dundee. Dundee United FC players also played their part on Christmas Day by making over 100 phone calls to those who benefitted from this year’s Festive Friends.

Jamie Kirk, Chief Executive for DUCT, commented “It’s been a privilege to play our part in helping people deal with the direct and indirect impact of Covid-19. This pandemic has brought about some of the most challenging circumstances for generations and the role of football clubs and their associated charities can’t be emphasised enough. The SPFL Trust report published today highlights the levels to which the football family have stepped up to the plate in the most challenging of times and, as we deal with fresh restrictions, we’re ready to do it again.”

For a copy of the full impact report from the SPFL Trust please click here.