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#StillStandingFree Blog #2 – Liz Bowie

May 6, 2020 11:49 am Author: Aberdeen FC Media Team

As the coronavirus pandemic took a grip on the UK, Aberdeen Football Club and its partner charity, AFC Community Trust began to plan for how we might approach this impending situation.

Some organisations might have solely focussed internally on how to manage the business, but from the outset we thought – how can we help Aberdeen?  The much-quoted Alfredo di Stefano “Aberdeen have what money can’t buy; a soul, a team spirit built in a family tradition” encapsulated our approach.

As someone who had only recently joined the AFC family, it has been so impressive to see that team spirit galvanised so positively by something so catastrophic. The two organisations have come together as one during this crisis, bringing practical solutions to bear above existing day to day working practices.

The initial focus was to partner with CFINE (Communities Food Initiative North East) to provide food deliveries to vulnerable children, we would have normally supported through breakfast and after school clubs and also Easter holiday camps.  We quickly identified that these children and their families would be facing real hardship and mobilised to make sure they don’t go without.

The launch of the #StillStandingFree campaign has seen almost 700 supporters donate to the appeal which is now in excess of £28,000 and is enabling this work to continue.  The power of marketing and communications through our social media channels to inform and motivate fans has been hugely beneficial – enabling us to create entertaining and engaging content.

Many practical challenges were identified, and creative ideas turned into solutions.  A real “can do” attitude pervades at the Club and Trust with a will to overcome obstacles.  This sense of urgency quickly addressed a need to contact others who were vulnerable in society; our fans, particularly the elderly in the first few weeks, with a series of welfare calls. To date over 6,000 conversations have been had and many follow up experiences with the Chairman, manager, first team and former players have brought joy to many and helped those experiencing social isolation.

The Trust is benefitting from the generosity of the Directors of AFC who are match-funding 10% of Season Ticket sales with a donation to the Trust.  In addition, the Arthur M Blank Family Foundation in Atlanta has donated £24,000 to support our work which will primarily focus on mental health in the NE of Scotland as the adjustment to the new normal begins. Beyond the obvious financial impact, these donations confirm the Aberdeen family spirit, with the Club and our sister Club in Atlanta all working collectively for the benefit of our community.

The power of partnership is something that should never be underestimated.  Being part of two organisations working as one has been a profound experience for me.  The willingness and energy of all staff to work closely together has been invigorating – everyone knowing that we are pulling together with the fans to help the community.  We will look back with pride knowing that Di Stefano was right – AFC is indeed a club with an incredible team spirit at the very heart of its community.

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