While Wembley is up for sale and the Scottish FA dithers over deciding between Murrayfield and Hampden Park, Street Soccer Scotland founder David Duke is planning his own home of football.
Plans for the £5m The Change Centre were unveiled on April 23 – the Edinburgh football complex will feature 32 en-suite bedrooms to house homeless people as well as a café and a community hub with six football pitches if approved by the city council.
Under the motto “the journey home starts here”, the complex aims to offer three essential things that Duke believes will help turn lives around – security, relationships and purpose – with 30 jobs created.
“The Change Centre can change lives for the better and get people back on their feet for good,” he said. “It will offer hope, relationships and purpose, but much more than that it’ll break away some of the misconceptions around homelessness.
“We don’t want the Change Centre to be just another place offering a roof for people who are homeless. We want to be part of the community, working with locals and users of the Change Centre to build trust and understanding.”
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Residents will be referred to the centre, which will share grounds with Edinburgh South Community Football Club, by the city council and partner agencies.
The project is currently at the public consultation stage and Duke insists he is keen to change how homelessness is perceived in the local area.
“We have begun the public consultation around the neighbourhood this week and the reaction has been largely positive,” he added. “Whenever anything new comes into the local community there is always some concerns but on the whole the plans have been received very positively and the main concern is about the public perception of homelessness.
David Duke said “The Change Centre can change lives for the better and get people back on their feet for good. It will offer hope, relationships and purpose, but much… https://t.co/syPBPrxM6T
— StreetSoccerScotland (@streetsoccerSCO) April 23, 2018
“What we have been trying to do this week is reducing the stigma of homelessness. That is very much what the centre is all about. A lot of homeless centres are cut off from communities and are located far away – this is all about creating a community centre and we have started that integration process with The Change Centre.”
Edinburgh SCFC chairman, Brian Waugh, said: “When we first learned of Street Soccer Scotland’s search for a location to make an investment, we saw an opportunity to pool the resources of both organisations and contribute to a proposal which would maximise the potential of the site and deliver maximum value to not only our club, but the whole local community.
“We hope that this can be an example of football bringing change for people who need it most, as well as benefiting our local community.”