At Big Hearts, we use the power of football to engage families and individuals in the local community who are most at risk of social isolation. This includes our work to support Kinship Carers – primarily grandparents caring for grandchildren full-time – and isolated older people, including those living with long-term health conditions. 

Gathering feedback from participants on the types of support they need is very much at the heart of what we do and the challenges of engaging with the digital world is often identified as an area where our beneficiaries would like more support. 

Round 6 of the Charter Fund came along at the perfect time for us as we had already been looking into ways to introduce digital aspects into our work with isolated older people. The opportunity to secure some funding as well as accessing support through the SCVO One Digital network was not to be missed! 

After reading through the fund guidance, I gave the Digital Team a call and had a great chat with Bev Maclean. This initial call was so helpful – giving me some very practical feedback and allowing me to refine our project idea before making a start on our application.  

Our application sought funding to develop a new project ‘Go Digital’ which would support our Kinship Carer Group and Football Memories participants to build their digital confidence and equip themselves with skills to use digital mediums as part of our programmes as well as back at home. We would do this by upskilling key staff and volunteers within the organisation to develop and deliver digital skills training, with the overall aim being to help reduce levels and feelings of isolation for participants.  

We were thrilled to receive the news that we had been successful in a very competitive funding round and couldn’t wait to get started. The induction event was a fantastic opportunity for key project staff to meet the SCVO Digital Team, as well as the other Round 6 projects. It was so interesting to hear about the range of fantastic projects spread across the country, working with many different groups. But there was also a lot of shared challenges and opportunities to learn from each other.  

With support from the Charter Fund, over the last 6 months we have been bringing digital innovation into our Football Memories sessions, to encourage participants to become more familiar with browsing and searching for images and content relevant to the sessions. For example, finding images of Hearts FC team photos from the 1960’s, or old stadiums. Volunteers are on hand to help participants use the iPads to get them comfortable. 

We have plans to further develop and introduce more digital training and activities throughout the next period including helping participants to navigate online safety. We will also use the iPads as part of our ongoing support for Kinship Carers. For example, during a session on fire safety in the home, carers will be supported to sign up for a fire safety check online and during a session on welfare reform they will explore online access to Universal Credit and other services.  

Finally, last month we were fortunate to be chosen as the host project for the launch of Round 7 of the Charter Fund. This was a fantastic opportunity to showcase our work to the Public Finance and Digital Economy Minister, and beyond. We’re thrilled to be part of the Charter Fund – not only has it given us access to crucial funding to help us deliver support where we know there is real need, it has also opened doors to other opportunities to help further develop our project and organisation.  

Thanks again to SCVO and the Charter Fund for your fantastic support!