Feeding those in Need: Big Hearts Interviews Eva and Alan Ritchie
On the 1st of October, the world celebrates the International Day of Older Persons, an event that seeks to highlight the challenges of the elderly people in today’s society. It is only right, then, that the 1st of October also coincides with the #Morethanfootball Action Day for Older Persons.
Today, we are inviting the European football family to share, through their social and traditional media channels, the programmes they have set in place to support their communities’ elder citizens and fans. Clubs, leagues and FAs have already begun showcasing their initiatives to make football more accessible to and welcoming towards older persons.
Among these is the Big Hearts Community Trust, the official charity of Heart of Midlothian FC. Big Hearts featured an interview with Alan Ritchie and his daughter Eva, who were very active during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown in distributing food and other basic necessities to at-risk individuals in the Edinburgh community.
How did you hear about this volunteering role with Big Hearts?
Alan: I first read about it on the Hearts’ website. I had thought about volunteering for some time, but I have two jobs and not much free time. Due to Coronavirus, I now find myself furloughed and with more time on my hands! I’ve put my name forward to help the NHS with testing but haven’t heard anything back yet. In the meantime, my daughter Eva saw photos of the Big Hearts’ volunteers on Instagram and asked me if we could volunteer together.
What most appealed to you? Why did you get involved?
Eva: I feel like with the virus outbreak some people are not as lucky as us. I know I can do something good to help these people. I want to contribute to someone else’s big smile. As a Hearts fan it’s quite nice to be coming back to the Stadium to volunteer and do something good. I usually have long lie-ins when there’s no schools, so at least it gets me out of bed!
What does your volunteering consist in?
Alan: We are making up lunch bags that will be distributed to adults and children who need a bit of extra support at this challenging time. We are packing up to fulfill the food orders from Social Bite. It’s a manual and practical role, very easy within a friendly atmosphere.
Eva: You have to be organised, but it’s also very relaxed so you’re not under any pressure to do anything fast. In the end, we get a lot done. About 1,200 are produced at the Stadium every day!
Alan: The empty bags are displayed on tables and one person will start to add juice boxes, then another will come behind to add biscuits or fruits etc. The bags are not complete until we add the fresh sandwiches that have been prepared by other volunteers next door.
After a few days in the role, how do you feel about the experience?
Alan: I always had a lot of respect for other people volunteering, so now that I have time on my hands I enjoyed being able to contribute myself to a good cause.
Eva: I wanted to volunteer for Hearts because I really love the football team. It’s satisfying to help others based on something I love and I’m interested in. It feels much more than just volunteering for me.
A great testament to Big Hearts’ commitment to supporting its community members in every way it can. Alan, Eva and the entire Big Hearts family, you are #Morethanfootball!