David Smith, Community Learning & Development Officer at AFCCT
How long have you worked for AFCCT?
I joined AFC in 2013 and the Trust was established in 2014, so I’ve been here from the very beginning. It’s been great to see how the initial idea of the Club’s charitable trust turned into a reality.
Describe your job
I am one of three Pillar Leads. Our pillars are: Football for Life, Education, and Healthy Communities. My job is to support staff across the three pillars to incorporate different youth work and community development approaches in the work we do in the wider community. Participants range from age five to 95. I also coordinate the Youth Ambassadors programme. It supports young people by helping them to build their confidence, develop new skills, mix with other young people, enhancing the employability of youngsters over the age of 14.
What attracted you to the job?
I had just graduated from Glasgow University with a degree in Community Development. I’d lived in Glasgow for 10 years and planned to look for work there. But I’m a lifelong Aberdeen fan and when I saw an ad for a job with the club as Community Projects Officer with a remit to develop “nonfootball projects” I knew I had to apply. The club was the initial attraction but, in the interview, when they talked about the plan for the future and how determined they were to make the Trust a success, I knew it was just too good an opportunity to pass up.
Taking this job is easily the best decision I have ever made. Seeing everyone at the Trust so dedicated daily inspires me. As a fan, to see just how much everyone here loves my club, and how hard they work to bring success and to help each other, and how much effort and hours they put in every single day, blows me away. They’re a privilege to work with.
What’s a typical day at work for you?
Prior to the pandemic my typical week would have been out working with a group of young people as part of our Alternative Academies project, ether in the city, Peterhead, or Fraserburgh. I would also spend a day in the office planning sessions, curriculums, staff training workshops, and another day meeting and supporting Youth Ambassadors or volunteers with AFCCT.
But I also help out with anything else when needed. The organisation is so flexible and diverse that it can be all hands on deck quite quickly, from helping arrange a fundraising event, to a volunteer popping in to say hello, to a quick chat at the kettle turning into a great idea and putting that into motion. It’s brilliant!
How much has the pandemic impacted on your work?
Working from home has been hard as I’m so used to being around people. Also, a lot of my job is being able to ‘read’ a person, and quite often that can be missed when talking on the phone or virtually. I am also not the most talented when it comes to IT, so to go from being very active and face to face surrounded by different types of people, to working from home on a laptop five days a week has been tough. However, it’s forced me to tackle head on a lot of tasks I might have avoided before, and I feel I’m a better staff member now for that.
What do you enjoy most about working for the Trust?
It’s the people, the characters you meet. The staff are all incredible, but more importantly they and the people we help inspire me every day; the children, young people, the older people, the families, the volunteers, the matchday staff and characters you come to know. They are people I would never have got the chance to meet, and I am extremely grateful for getting to do all this, at the club I love, and get to call it my job. I also am also very proud of our journey. On a personal note, looking back and seeing a lot of the projects I initially developed, grow and develop further into multiple schools and community settings has been fantastic. Seeing a lot of those people who benefited stay involved as they want to give something back is brilliant. They really are part of the AFC family.
What impact has the Trust had on the community?
Seeing the Trust grow as an organisation is special for me having been here from the start. However, it’s not grown because of private sponsorship, or just because we want it to, it’s down to the positive impact we have delivered; our track record speaks for itself. Every single day, I hear someone say “this has changed my life”. That can be achieving more in school, getting accepted into college or university, getting a job, making new friends or being able to speak in public. Knowing we’ve helped people on their personal journey is rewarding. One of the biggest impacts I have seen, is with our staff. Many of our full‐time or sessional staff started as participants in our programmes ‐ from primary school pupils who have stayed with us, youth ambassadors to volunteers, sessional staff members and full‐time staff. The diversity of people involved with AFCCT, the results we see from our programmes and the human stories you hear and see every day ‐ I can’t overestimate how much of a positive impact we are having on people’s lives. . . mine included.