Football themed homeless complex could save lives

Third Force News, by Gareth Jones 


Plans for a multi-million pound football themed homeless complex have been unveiled.

The Change Centre aims to create a place of security, relationships and purpose for the homeless at a base near Edinburgh city centre.

The proposals – the brainchild of Street Soccer Scotland founder David Duke – could see 32 en-suite bedrooms, living facilities and a community hub with six football pitches created at Morgan Playing Fields.

A public consultation on the plans has been launched, with the complex expected to cost around £5 million to create.

“The Change Centre can change lives for the better and get people back on their feet for good,” said Duke. “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.”

The centre would be run using a social enterprise model, with those referred to the centre working alongside staff. Up to 30 jobs could be created as part of the proposals.

The development would be situated at the site of Edinburgh South Community Football Club, which serves more than 200 players in the area.

Chairman Brian Waugh said: “We are firmly rooted in the community, with most of the coaches within our ranks living and working in the area. We pride ourselves in welcoming footballers of all ages, genders, background and ability to the club.

“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.”

A planning application has yet to be submitted, however developers are preparing a community asset transfer request for the land, with the fields owned by City of Edinburgh Council.

“Housing is critical in Edinburgh,” said Duke, who has previously spoken candidly about having experienced homelessness.

“The homeless need to be in secure accommodation and feel comfortable rather than being in bed and breakfasts.

“The Change Centre will save lives. It will add value to the community and change people’s perception of homelessness. I have funders for the development with the cost possibly coming down depending on a number of things.”