Hamilton Academical Football Club
“There has been such a radical change within our society since 1874 when our club was first formed and under great leadership and a committed team; we have sought to ensure our stadium serves the community now and into the future.
We provide a safe and private environment for various groups and projects, weekly drug and alcohol support groups and drop-in services including those of fellowships such as AA, CA, and Family Anonymous; affiliation with the Blameless Charity, a charity supporting children affected by drug and alcoholism. Weekly support groups for parents/Carers with autism and ASN.
- A 52-week recreational curriculum for children with ASN. Including football, chess, drama, Lego therapy, music therapy, pony therapy. Educational, social and emotional wellbeing away days/overnights at a variety of places.
- Weekly Mental health football for fathers/male Carers/adults with mild learning difficulties.
- Weekly football training for the deaf community.
- Weekly community cafe affordable food prices, relaxed and informal surroundings with representation from a variety of services including health, wellbeing, finance etc and signposting service to both internally housed services and external partner agencies.
- Complimentary home game tickets which not only encourages social inclusion but gives many, especially those with autism and learning difficulties a stepping stone and supportive route to accessing football. Our buddy family system and supportive staff ensure all families are appropriately cared for.
- Community coaching 4 evenings per week with an average footfall of 120 children aged between 5 and 14yrs who have access to our trained coaches, 3G pitches.
- Voluntary and Employment opportunities along with regular access to training bespoke to meet personal development needs continue to arise with the development of our community presence; examples of such are evidenced within our association with the Scottish prison service, rehabilitation and community re-engagement.
- Development of adjoining wasteland to offer safe, enclosed garden, play areas, crazy golf, nature programme, family fun days and essential to the many groups and charities who need access to amenities as part of their vital fundraising and raising awareness days.
Our results so far have highlighted an increased awareness of statutory and non-statutory services available to encourage positive community well-being; increased attendance at school, increased social and emotional behaviour, reduced crime rate, positive attitude to life and personal self-worth and positive and healthier attitudes to the meaning of sport and positive recreational habits.
Community engagement has created positive partnership working with both statutory and non-statutory services and groups to create a better understanding of needs readily identified and co-manage projects and activities to meet these needs.
A variety of government officials ranging from local MSP’s, Ministers and Party Leaders have visited the stadium and endorsed our community work. In particular, a motion was raised in the Scottish Parliament with the suggestion that other clubs around Scotland should replicate our work to meet the ever growing needs of our
The next phase to our Children’s Escape garden, in partnership with Play As 1 Scotland is to ensure this is fully inclusive to all regardless of ability and will include a variety of specialist play equipment, landscaped appropriately for mobility and introduce a sensory garden/woodland walk.
Over the last 4-6 years the club’s presence within the community has positively transformed many third sector groups and the community as a whole. Our stadium’s presence (which has a capacity of 6,500) situated within the community of Whitehill which is listed within the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation was one of the fundamental challenges identified and under the leadership of our CEO whose passion and vision to ensure the attraction of the game is capitalised upon to reach and support the many thousands in our local community.
Utilising administrative space previously let for commercial purposes only or lying dormant internally other than on match days, along with spare land/current recreational space externally; ultimately became the focus of our long term objective and hopefully our legacy.
In 2015, the creation of a new development team “Community Outreach” was formed releasing the key to unlocking the potential which existed within the grounds.
Each team member has both the professional and personal experience represented within the club’s blueprint menu of in-house support and recreational activities, skilfully supported by our community staff, coaches and management and has successfully utilised the club’s facilities for the full benefit of our community.
HAFC considers its community project work paramount and of equal value to the many accolades and celebratory wins. As far back as 1874 when first established by local school Hamilton Grammar, the sport and spirit of the community has been intertwined and over the past 10 years under the leadership of CEO Colin McGowan and more notably in the past season it can be said that the club’s spirit is alive and well in the community.
Our in-house activities, support groups and variety of projects including supporting children and families affected by autism and additional support needs, drug and alcohol addiction, socially excluded and considered to be at a disadvantage for whatever reason find solace, support and feel “at home” which certainly takes the meaning of a “Home game” to a whole new level.
Our doors remain open even when the turnstiles close!”