Raith Rovers will make Festive Friends this Christmas

Raith Rovers are among the SPFL clubs bringing Christmas cheer to those that need it most this year by taking part in the biggest ever Festive Friends programme during the holiday season.

By Paul McCabe
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 9:00 am
John McGlynn with Dylan Tait, Aidan Connolly and Matej Poplatnik holding Festive Friends boxes.
John McGlynn with Dylan Tait, Aidan Connolly and Matej Poplatnik holding Festive Friends boxes.

The programme is now in its sixth year, with 41 SPFL clubs taking part in the campaign this year, joining up with associated community trusts (ATCs) across Scotland.

Festive Friends brings Christmas cheer and companionship to elderly people who are socially isolated and at risk of being alone during the festive season.

The campaign has the largest fund ever this year, a total of £100,000, which means the SPFL Trust will be able to more than double the number of people clubs are able to support.

As such, the programme is expected to support over 3,000 people this year and has been given the backing of Raith boss John McGlynn.

The Stark’s Park gaffer has first hand experience of the programme as he joined club volunteers last year when they made home deliveries to those in need.

"It’s really great,” he said.

"I think we first got involved a couple of years ago.

"We had the more senior members of our fan base come to the stadium and they got a meal.

"It was really nice to see them there. They really enjoyed their day.

"Last year we went out and we delivered hampers.

"I really want to thank everyone who contributed to those and to those who helped with the distribution.

"I know the people we delivered them to were very grateful and thankful. It can be such a difficult time of the year for some.

"It was also really nice to see people involved with the football club getting so involved with the local community.”

Almost 4,000 people have enjoyed an event in the last five years and last year’s new-look initiative, when it was not possible to hold events due to physical distancing rules, was also a huge success with over 2,800 people receiving Christmas hampers in doorstep visits.

Hampers contained food, snacks, essential toiletries, gifts, games and more.

Some clubs even brought video messages from managers and players; others had players make personal deliveries.

This year club staff and volunteers will continue to visit participants with hampers, or welcome them to their ground to enjoy a hot Christmas lunch, fun and games, a club gift, and transport there and home.

SPFL Trust CEO, Nicky Reid, said: "Festive Friends is a real highlight of the year for me and my colleagues at SPFL clubs.

"It's all about good old fashioned Christmas spirit - bringing club staff and volunteers together to reach elderly people who are at risk of social isolation.

"Scottish football is trusted to support, and our recent research shows that almost 83% of people live within ten miles of a SPFL ground - because of this clubs and their associated community trusts are well positioned to effect this type of change in their communities.

"We look forward to supporting more elderly people than ever before."