Saturday 14th January saw the return of SFL action to Dens Park in the Dee's first home league game of 2012, and Dundee FC Supporters' Society were delighted to welcome Transform Community Development along to the game against Livingston as part of the Community Initiative.
Transform Community Development (formerly Dundee Cyrenians) is a community based project aimed at overcoming social exclusion and poverty by providing temporary accommodation, with 70 beds across three units, along with support in finding permanent accommodation and furniture for people who are in need and creating employment opportunities for people who are having difficulty finding employment.
Transform also provide a whole range of other services, from Dundee Homefinder Service, Arch Catering, The Big Apple through to the distribution of quality surplus food through their FareShare project. The Society caught up with Bryan Smith to see how the day had gone for them. "Everything on the day was fantastic, the organisation shown by all the volunteers at Dens was unbelievable, so the day went off really well. The article in the match programme was fantastic also, it said exactly what we wanted to say, and that set us up for a very successful visit.
"We are really happy for all the support we received from Jacqui Robertson, and the Dundee supporters, and we have already received a few enquiries since the visit. We have had some people in touch donating furniture, and a few just enquiring as to what exactly our services have to offer.
"We were obviously aware that people were really at Dens to watch the football, and have a good time, so we were keen not to be badgering them, so we decided just to have leaflets available, I was handing them out with my two kids, Georgia and Lewis, and that seemed to be enough. Plenty were handed out and, hopefully, a few more people are now aware of Transform Community Development and what we do, and if that means that in the future we can help more people, then we have achieved our objective.
"Obviously the leaflets can never explain the whole story, and homelessness is a pretty complex issue, but if anyone really wanted more information then I felt that they would not really be wanting it there and then, they were at Dens for the football after all, and contact information was on the leaflets handed out, so they could always get in touch later, and thankfully that proved to be the case.
"We got involved today because the three of us are season ticket holders, and saw the work done at Dens, in fact it was the second home game of the season, where we saw Boomerang had a stall in the Bobby Cox concourse; we have actually dealt with Neil and his team at Boomerang, so I knew a fair bit about them, and it got me thinking, if Boomerang can do it, why can’t Transform Community Development?
"So I got in touch with Jacqui, and soon plans were afoot for our visit last week, and I would recommend it to any local charity who would like to become involved in this initiative. The way the day was organised left us free to concentrate on what we wanted to achieve, and with the help of the volunteers at Dens, I think we exceeded our expectations. Indeed if any charity is interested, but maybe a bit unsure, I would be happy to talk to them personally, and let them know how well things went for us on the day."
When asked if Dundee supporters were reflective of his target market, Bryan was quick to point out that everyone is his target market. "As I said to Jacqui prior to our visit, we don’t have a target audience as such, because anyone can become homeless, people in any circumstances can find themselves in that situation, but on top of that, it might be that people may know of someone else in those circumstances, and maybe now they might just think of Transform Community Development, and if they get in touch, then we can direct them to wherever they need to go for the help they need.
"Dundee might have a fairly low number of people sleeping rough, but homelessness is more than just those people, someone sleeping on a friend’s sofa or anyone who does not have secure accommodation is maybe homeless, and we look to help those people. Our aim at Dens was to raise awareness of what we do, and thanks to everyone involved in this community initiative at Dens, we feel the day was successful. Because of the work we do, sometimes it is hard for us to actually get any publicity, and this was a great way for us to do that, and I can’t thank everyone who helped out today enough."
For Jacqui Robertson, the day was also a successful one, "It was a pleasure to work with Bryan not only in his capacity with Transform but as a fellow fan in the Bobby Cox. The fact that he had noticed one of our other charities in the stand was great as it led to another interesting and informative local charity being highlighted. The platform is there and I want to hear from people like Bryan who see the opportunity to make their voices heard in the community and amongst a group of fans who have proven they care deeply about many things.
"One of the things that Bryan said to me that stuck with me is that it doesn't matter who you are, anyone can become homeless. I'd like to think that if I or anyone I know was ever in the position that a lot of our fellow Dundonians find themselves in, that Transform could make a difficult situation that little bit easier."
The Dundee FC Supporters' Society would like to thank Bryan, Georgia and Lewis for coming along to Dens on the 14th, and are proud to be associated with the leading homeless charity in Dundee. Anyone wishing further information on Transform Community Development, whether it is to use the services they offer, donating furniture, volunteering or indeed any of their other services, can contact Bryan through the Transform Community Development