Footballing social enterprise Street Soccer Scotland will hold their annual gala dinner despite the Covid-19 pandemic – by rallying 3,000 supporters to don black tie over Zoom.
Big Issue Changemaker David Duke has refused to let the lockdown stop the vital fundraising event and has attracted big names to appear digitally. Charity ambassador and legendary Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will contribute a message of support while Liverpool FC’s Champions League winner Andrew Robertson will appear in coversation.
There will also be offerings from Scottish comedy star Greg McHugh, singer-songwriter Tom Greenan and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter.
With our events cancelled due to COVID-19 we are launching a new ‘GALA DINNER at HOME’ with special guests and more announced in the next 48hrs.
Join us for a great night supporting our work during COVID19 and beyond.
— Street Soccer Scotland (@streetsoccerSCO) May 13, 2020
And there will even be food served at the event, with chef Nick Nairn producing a bespoke menu for the occasion and offering online cookery classes so guests can create the dishes at home.
The May 30 event is “exactly what’s needed right now”, says Duke, the founder and CEO of Street Soccer Scotland.
“It’s a wee bit of something to look forward to and we’re trying to make it a bit of an event,” he told The Big Issue.
“Our gala dinner is a big part of our year and it is true of other charities too – they rely on gala events for income. So, hopefully, if this goes well, it can act as a model for other charities to follow because a lot are going to suffer in the current situation and they will have to think of new ways engage their supporters.
“The thing I like about the gala dinner is that you’re adding value as well – it’s not just asking people to donate to your cause, what I’ve always tried to do with Street Soccer Scotland is start a relationship and provide a service so, like The Big Issue, it’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up.”
The Big Issue has inspired the launch of 120 street papers globally, including sister titles in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
Nairn, the youngest Scottish chef to win a Michelin star, said: “I am delighted to be able to offer my support to Street Soccer Scotland and create a delicious menu for families to enjoy as part of the gala dinner at home experience
“I look forward to seeing everyone’s efforts on the night and hope guests enjoy this unique event.”
Staff at Street Soccer Scotland have been adapting quickly since the Covid-19 lockdown ending activities on the pitch.
Life is all about trying to create positive experiences. It’s to add that wee little spark in the eye
As well as distributing meals and vital mental health support, they’ve also been sorting out phones for players to allow them to run WhatsApp quizzes and Zoom calls. The charity has even launched Street Soccer Scotland Live events that have seen football stars Ally McCoist, Harry Redknapp and more dial into speak to SSS players.
Their efforts have been crucial as the Homeless World Cup – one of the focal points of SSS’s year – has been postponed, meaning that instead of finding themselves at the heart of their selection process in mid-May, Duke and Co. have had to be fleet-footed to adapt to the changing situation.
Duke added: “On a personal level, I’ve been having to solve problems for a long time and it’s about looking at what assets you’ve got and what team you’ve got and making the most of it. At the end of the day, it is all about the players.
“What we’re doing is purely just to give people a positive experience, life is all about trying to create positive experiences. It’s to add that wee little spark in the eye.”
Get your ticket for the gala dinner to support Street Soccer Scotland here.