Community Report

Earlier in the week we brought you an update from Willie Gibson regarding the reserve programme that we run.  Today we would like to bring you “A year in the community” report that Dan Armstrong shared with shareholders at the AGM.

As always it has been a busy year in the community.

The soccer camps that we run during the school holidays again proved popular and we reached record numbers in each camp that we held. In the summer we expanded our reach and ran six soccer camps across four locations totalling 9000 minutes of football.  We gave away 234 junior blue season tickets, 150 Queen of the south home tops and hundreds of memories for the kids to take away with them. The camps teach skills such as passing, shooting, dribbling and teamwork as well as giving the children a chance to play in plenty of matches. The first team also visit so the kids have a chance to watch them do their training and get to meet their heroes.

The after School Club on a Wednesday continues, averaging 42 children.  The two sessions for pre-school and primary school kids allows them to practice their skills with community coaches and reserve team players. The after school club to offer an initial platform for youngsters to engage with football. We aim to make it a positive experience so that their first taste of football is one they will never forget and we hope they then have an association with the club and go on to be a Queen of the South fan for life.

Saturday kids club is still running ahead of home games.  The activity offers an hour and a half of football coaching before the kids have lunch and then attend the first team game. We are planning to re-vamp this club in a hope to attract more youngsters along.

The Why try programme is still very much part of the community work that we do in high schools across the region.  The programme is there to help youth overcome their challenges and improve the outcomes in the areas of truancy, behaviour and academic studies. The young people are taught about social and emotional principles through a series of tasks throughout a 10 week block. This programme has proved invaluable as you can see from some of the feedback we received from the North West Community Campus.  They said it:-

  • Reduced the number of exclusions
  • Increased inclusion
  • School developing better, more productive and effective relationships with pupils, parents and outside agencies as appropriate
  • Pupils more focussed and engaged in their learning
  • Pupils needs better met with realistic targets being set and being achieved for individuals/groups
  • Improved discipline across the school due to consistency and pro-active nature of supporting Learners
  • Increased confidence and effectiveness of parents/carers due to joint working of pupils, parents, staff towards agreed targets with agreed strategies
  • Levels of attainment, achievement and participation increased for those requiring targeted support and others whose learning is not being interrupted by poor behaviour or increased focus in the classroom

We are one of many clubs across Scotland who are taking part in the 4-4-2 reading challenge.  It is a great initiative that we have been fortunate to run this year in collaboration with Scottish libraries and the SPFL and across the board we have worked with 24 schools on this challenge.  The challenge is for kids to read books and for every book they read they get a stamp and once they have read four books and have the stamps – they can exchange it for a ticket so they can come to a Queen of the South game for free.  It has increased reading participation across the schools, making reading a more accepted norm in the classroom. With this we have been able use reading and football as a tool to make the whole thing very cross curricular and enjoyable for all to take part.

Alongside the 4-4-2 reading challenge we ran a Tesco poetry competition – it was open to children aged 4 – 12 years old.  The challenge was for them to write a poem about Queen of the South and say what the club means to them, in total we engaged with over 250 children as they wrote poems about Queens.

Football Fans In Training – the fans fitness training is back.  Working with the SPFL Trust we have managed to deliver the programme in 2020. We are only a couple of weeks into this year’s 12 week block but 14 members signed on to the course. The project focuses on healthy lifestyle choices and becoming more active. In the past we have has significant weight loss in the groups and healthy and happier people at the end of it. So much so that we have had our case studies read out in parliament and due to the great work of Scottish clubs this programme is being introduced across the globe.

Festive Friends– 25 guests came along from the Charnwood and Allanbank to enjoy a Christmas dinner courtesy of Queen of the South football club and the SPFL Trust. Each guest came along and enjoyed a three course meal in the company of others which is truly what Christmas should be about. It is a privilege to run such a programme.  As well as the meal, each guest also received a free QOS scarf as a gift. This year we received good press coverage which showed the work we do on a bigger platform.

The school of football is the newest of our projects; the programme is a fantastic initiative were the Club coaches the S1 Dumfries Academy team for two periods every Thursday. As part of this programme we tackle pressing issues in the world of sport and how we can make the sport better for everyone to be a part of. As well as this the children get to become footballers for two hours and undergo coaching with myself and Willie Gibson.  This is extremely beneficial to the children as Willie Gibson has played nearly 500 professional games so he is able to shows the children that if you work hard you can achieve your dream. The sessions are the best example of the message we want people to take for our community groups as we want to help people achieve what they set out to achieve. This programme piloted with the Academy and now has the potential to run across all of the high schools in Dumfries.

Our walking football group remains strong with a core of 20 men who come along weekly to socially engage in a game of walking football. I never actually appreciated the importance that this programme has socially, I always understood the health benefits, yet never appreciated the social side of the programme until a recent player of the year awards night when one of the lads said “this is the thing I look forward to the most in a week, coming along and playing a game with my friends, it’s the highlight of my week”.

Schools programme– the schools have yet again taken us near and far, engaging with over 30 schools we have taken one off sessions, 8 week sessions, after school clubs, lunch clubs, education talks, career days, health weeks, ground tours. You name it we will try our best to do it. Working alongside a whole host of schools we have engaged with hundreds and hundreds of school children and influence their school day in a positive way.

We have also run numerous events this year with the highlight being the Christmas market; it really was a day for all the family and allowed the club to interact with children from the age of two right through to the oldest choir singer at 87. Our hope is for this event to grow and grow.  

Wecontinue to have “partners” that we work with and this year we have worked with an abundance of people including.

  • The football memories group for people with dementia. Every month we provide the changing room to hold the session along with a pie and a bovril.
  • Project search – we have had our third person who has learning difficulties come along for work experience and we try and help find them employment after their time with us.
  • The white ribbon campaign as we keep our strong link working hard to end violence against women.
  • Residential care homes, Mannering Avenue, Allanbank & Charnwood
  • DGHP – we aid service users access to games to continue to support Queens.
  • Local youth teams, who all get a turn at being ball boys and girls.
  • Cash for kids who provide funding for our breakfast club and allow some kids to attendee our soccer camps when otherwise it wouldn’t be possible for them to do so.
  • Let’s get biking which allows people with disabilities to learn to bike ride.

This year we have also taken over the running of Lochmaben community centre which has not only allowed us to expand our own programmes, it has allowed us to host activities to cater for everyone from highland dancing to gymnastics .  Former player, Bailey White runs the day to day side of things at Lochmaben, while, Owen Bell runs things at the KGV.  It shows that the club care about getting its young players in to employment should football not work out. The reserves also do shifts in the KGV, the QOS Arena and Lochmaben as well as studying at the college.

Last but by no means least, our Breakfast club, is now in its fourth year, meaning as a club we have been feeding 20 children every school morning a healthy breakfast that they may not ordinarily get for four years. As part of our annual review system we get feedback on all of our programs, breakfast club stood out for me, as people fortunate enough to never worry about food being on the table, being fortunate enough to know that our homes will be warm and fortunate enough to look after ourselves we need to remember that in Dumfries right on our doorstep that it isn’t the case for every child. 

As part of the review into what the school and the children think about our breakfast club we received the following comments:-  

“I like coming to breakfast club because if my parents don’t have enough money to buy breakfast you can come here and have it.  We also brush our teeth and I don’t usually do it at home.”

“I like coming.  It gives me a good start to the day.  It’s calmer here than at home and I get to brush my teeth.”

“You can make new friends at breakfast club.  If your family don’t have any clean bowls or spoons you can still get your breakfast.”

“Danny makes me laugh.  He makes better toast than Mrs Stewart.  It helps me with my learning because I don’t get hungry in class.  I like seeing my friends at breakfast club in the morning.”

Finally, as we now have charitable status with the community trust, we have future plans to grow and grow. So this year we will be set to flourish and grow as we set to embark on this new journey as a charity meaning we can access more to make football inclusive no matter age ability or back ground, advance public participation and advance education through the provision of sport, health and wellbeing. As a club, a charitable arm we aim to engage, empower and evolve the people we work with.