The final ‘Supporting Our Supporters’ drop-in of 2023 took place on Monday November 27th in Easter Road stadium’s away dressing room. Run by Hibernian Community Foundation volunteers who have completed SAMH’s The Changing Room, this SoS session was notable for welcoming participants from The Changing Room running at Heart of Midlothian.
The invite to ‘our cousins from the other side of the city’ was issued at The Changing Room’s recent alumni event, held at Hampden Stadium earlier in November. Organised by SAMH and the SPFL Trust, these annual get-togethers welcome fans who have participated in The Changing Room at clubs across Scotland to the national stadium, giving them the opportunity to meet fellow participants and share in the project’s massive impact.
HCF volunteers Dave Thomson and Neil Renton both discussed their mental health journeys at this event, while a keynote speaker was Hibernian’s Director of Football, Brian McDermott. Brian has gained widespread respect for delivering forthright talks on his own struggles with mental health and addiction; he previously shared his life-affirming story at the July SoS drop-in. At the alumni event, Dave and Neil got talking to fans from The Changing Room at Tynecastle and took the opportunity to issue the invite to the next SoS drop-in.
On the night, as well as Hibs fans who attend the SoS meetings, there were supporters of Hearts, Celtic, and Dundee United. All set their rivalries aside as they shared their common bond: men with experience of a variety of personal but often similar mental health issues, encouraged by The Changing Room to open up about them, gaining empathy and support. With Neil facilitating the discussions, the group touched on many topics. Everyone agreed it was an extremely worthwhile (and quick) 90 minutes!
SoS are planning to reconvene in the New Year and are looking into booking speakers for 2024’s meetings, following on from the success of previous speakers Brian, Ger Freedman (Leith Athletic chairman and prominent Hands Off Hibs campaigner), and John ‘Yogi’ Hughes (former Hibs player and manager). One of the founders of The Changing Room, Robert Nesbitt, has already been pencilled in.
Finally, all at SoS would like to wish everyone best wishes (and positive mental health) over the festive season. See you in 2024!