EFDN Interview- Peter Davidson from Montrose Community Trust

29 April 2020

EFDN Interview- Peter Davidson from Montrose Community Trust

The next EFDN Interview features Peter Davidson who is the Chief Executive at Montrose Community Trust and the Director of Montrose Football Club. Peter is extremely passionate about the role that football can play in supporting the lives of all but in particular those of the most disadvantaged in our communities.

Peter, a former Montrose Academy pupil, went on to become a Lecturer in Sport, Health and Exercise at both Angus College and Inverness College respectively before assuming a coaching role at Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC. Peter then joined Dundee United FC as part of Craig Brewster’s management team, before undertaking a second spell at ICT as their Head of Sports Science.

In 2012, Peter was instrumental in the creation of the Trust and has played a pivotal role since in both its growth and success. MCT, the charitable arm of Montrose FC, has recently been crowned ‘Best Professional Club in the Community’ by the Scottish FA, ‘Community Project of the Year’ by the SPFL Trust and ‘Social Impact Business of the Year’ by the Dundee Courier.

Additionally, Peter Davidson is a Board member of the EFDN, further endorsing the great community work undertaken by Montrose Football Club, together with its charitable organisation.

EFDN: What is a typical day in your role like? What do you love the most about working for the club/trust?

It is a privilege to manage Montrose Community Trust, and it’s incredible workforce of staff and volunteers. The charity launched in 2012, and year on year, since that time, my role has become less ‘hands-on’ in project delivery and is more concerned with developing and implementing strategy, in association with partner agencies who can assist us in identifying and developing programmes to address local inequalities.  Through football, we are reaching, engaging and positively influencing many people in our community, and in some cases, not only changing lives, but saving lives, and I take great pride in being part of something that is making such a positive contribution to our local area.

EFDN: How are you handling the current situation?

Personally, and professionally, there hasn’t been a great deal of change. On behalf of Montrose Community Trust, I am liaising with partner agencies to identify and plan interventions for addressing the local need. To be able to do so, requires financial and physical resource, so I have been busy applying for funding, and have been heartened by the number of funders that have realigned their criteria, and timescales, to allow for the quick release of funds to support us, and our communities, in these times of need. In addition to being on the Board of the EFDN, I am also a Director of both Montrose Football Club and the Scottish Professional Football League, so it has been an extremely busy and challenging time trying to support both organisations through these unprecedented times. Personally, I am enjoying being able to spend some additional, quality time with the family, as despite being busy still, most of my work is being undertaken from home, so I have no excuse to not make it home in time for family meals.

EFDN: What are the main target areas of your trust?

Montrose Community Trust is no different to any other company, club or charity, in that we will face significant financial difficulties during this period, as a result of being unable to offer any of our income-generating programmes, or fulfil agreed contracts to deliver education and/or employability programmes. We have taken a number of steps to mitigate the risks to our organisation, and we also have a strong support network who are pulling together to assist us during this time, whether it be by way of a corporate or personal donation, or by participating in a challenge to raise funds towards our work. So our target, therefore, at the moment, is sustainability and attempting to maintain contact with those in our community that have come to rely on our services.

EFDN: What is the trust’s most successful programme? Can you please explain in more detail what the project is about, including the projects main aims and objectives and the impact this programme has had, within the community?

We measure the success of our work in very different ways. On a weekly basis, we engage with in excess of 1000 people, each and every week, from the ages of 1 to those aged 90+, and with Montrose being a town of just 12,000 people, that is a sizeable reach. We tend to qualify the success of our interventions however on the relative impact it is having on lives. The projects that we currently deliver support those that are unemployed, living with a disability, recovering from an addiction, suffering from poor mental health, living with dementia, disengaged from mainstream schooling and/or living in social isolation, to name just a few. There is a perception, and a misconception, that granted, we are slowly eradicating, that we exist to provide opportunities to participate in football. Of the distinct 34 programmes we deliver, just a third of those involve the actual kicking of a ball, but the context of football runs through them all, such as its ability to interest and engage. We deliver a programme called ‘Football Fans in Training’ in association with the SPFL Trust, and this provides opportunities for both men and women to participate in a 13-week health and wellbeing programme, the outcomes, of course, being to improve upon the lifestyle, including diet and physical activity levels, of participants. A recent attendee, who provided a personal evaluation of the project, stated that prior to being offered a place on the course, he was ‘considering self-harm, even suicide and that if it wasn’t for Montrose Community Trust, and this particular project’ he wouldn’t be here today. This ultimately shows the impact, and the unintended outcomes that our, and the work of football clubs and foundations throughout Europe can have on people, and often the hardest to reach.

EFDN: What kind of initiatives are you currently delivering to help to overcome the COVID 19 crisis?

As a result of the current pandemic, we are unable, currently, to deliver any of our usual programmes, in their traditional form. We have been able to adapt some, by adopting new, online methods of communication, but we have directed most of our time, effort and energy to the development and delivery of a COVID-19 Community Assist Scheme, which seeks to help those most affected by the lockdown restrictions. There are a number of strands to the scheme, which is being delivered by a skeleton staff, but also an extensive network of committed and enthusiastic volunteers, to whom we, and our beneficiaries, are extremely grateful. Our initiative provides befriending calls to older adults who are isolating at home, by choice or otherwise, and who would benefit from the company and a conversation, and we are hosting online group support meetings for those suffering from poor mental health. We are operating an essential transport for people in our community, and outer-lying rural areas, that have been affected by changes to public transport schedules. Using our minibus, we will collect one person at a time – so as to ensure social distancing – and take them to the health centre and/or hospital for routine appointments, the pharmacy and/or the supermarket for shopping. We are also assisting parents in home-schooling their children at home, through the provision of inspiring, football-themed resources. Finally, our assist scheme tackles issues in relation to food, whether it be making contactless doorstep collections of donations for our local food bank – to keep them well stocked during this time of significant need – or preparing and distributing hot meals for those that may otherwise go without.

EFDN: What makes the role of clubs and their foundation’s so important during this crisis?

We are all missing football dearly, but it should not be our priority right now. No recreational programme, or competitive match, league or cup competition is worth risking life for, and it would be irresponsible to force such to start or resume before it is completely safe to do so. I am convinced that football will come back stronger through all of this, and it will play an important role in bringing a sense of normality, community and enjoyment to our daily lives. The resumption of football will also go some way to symbolising recovery, not only in our country but worldwide. For now, however, we must merely use the appeal and connecting power of football to maintain contact and assist those that have come to rely on us. We have a responsibility to put our standing in the community to very good use in supporting and saving lives. Nothing matters more.

EFDN: How do you stay safe, healthy and fit? Do you have any tips or advice?

I certainly wouldn’t claim to be fit at the moment, I don’t always practice what I preach and a target for myself is to commit more time to myself and my health. I do like to remain active, however, and with two boys –pulling me out into the back garden for a game of football, and two dogs – pulling me out for a walk, I certainly reach my daily step count, and I always feel better for it. It is important that we look after each other, but also ourselves, physically and emotionally, and exercise goes a long way in supporting such.

EFDN: What are your personal and the trust’s goals for 2020 and the near future?

A personal goal of mine would be to get my golf handicap back down into single figures. I have managed to spare some time to take up golf again, it’s something I love to do, but I need to find and commit more time to getting better. One of the major goals for Montrose Community Trust is to commence the project of building a new HQ within the grounds of Links Park Stadium. We have had initial plans designed for such. As our organisation grows, so does our need for bespoke space for administration and operations, and it would be a fantastic resource not only for us, but our partner agencies, and the wider community.

EFDN: EFDN believes that Football is #More than Football. Why do you think your club is #morethanfootball?

Montrose is a small club, with a very big heart, and through the work of its charitable arm, Montrose Community Trust, are committed to using the power of football to changes lives and the community.

EFDN: To whom would you like to #passiton too, and why? 

I would like to #passiton to my friend and colleague Yolanda at the Barça Foundation, from the smallest EFDN member club to the biggest. Their work is inspirational and I look forward to hearing how they are surviving and no doubt thriving in these difficult times.

If you want to know more about Peter Davidson and his work at EFDNMontrose FC and the Montrose Community Trust, then you can visit his Linkedin profile.


Play-Makers Employability Programme

During a transfer window, a Football Manager will often share his desire to sign a ‘Play-Maker’ – someone who ...

Memory Well – Motherwell FC

Memory Well is a reminiscence project funded by the Bank of Scotland Foundation. The grant enables the Trust ...