Plans revealed for £5m football-themed homeless complex

Proposals have been unveiled to build a football-themed self management and personal development centre for people experiencing homelessness in Edinburgh.

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

A public consultation has been launched today to seek the views of residents with the complex expected to cost around £5 million to create.

David Duke, who has personal experience of homelessness, has produced a plan in order to give homeless people the three essential things he believes they need in order to turn their lives around – security, relationships and purpose.

He 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 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 motto for the centre will be ‘the journey home starts here’ and will offer local people use of the facilities including a café and learning zones, as well as opportunities for local children and young people to use the centre, such as local schools and sports clubs.

David added: “The personal development programme would get the residents to help run the community facility by volunteering, cleaning, cooking, receptionist, football coaching and more. These will help their core skills for moving on to their own home and for getting employment. This is different to anything that has been done before.

“Residents will be recommended through the city council and other agencies with a decision based on suitability. They don’t have to like football as there are other things to get involved with.

“We want to rehome residents but only when they feel comfortable. There will be continued support after residents have moved out and would still be able to volunteer.”

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.

If approved, the Change Centre would be situated at the home of Edinburgh South Community Football Club, which already serves around 650 players in and around the community.

Edinburgh South Community Football Club 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.”

“We believe the Change Centre will do just that. Through collaboration, the Change Centre will help homeless people to find a purpose and direction in a community organisation.

“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.”

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