A night out, indoors

4 minutes
With the help of the EICC, Edinburgh-based social enterprise Street Soccer Scotland delivered their annual gala dinner online - marking the first of the EICC’s Make It Edinburgh Live hybrid events.
Street Soccer Scotland’s aim is to use the positive power of football to help people affected by homelessness, mental illness and social exclusion. They offer free drop-in training sessions in locations across Scotland, as well as personal development courses offering education and skills in first aid, coaching and nutrition. Every day, they give some of the most marginalised people in society a purpose, a community, an identity.

When the coronavirus lockdown hit, founder and CEO David Duke thought he would have to forget about the organisation’s annual gala dinner. As a social enterprise which relies heavily on fundraising, this would have been a severe blow for Street Soccer.

A different kind of event

Then, David had an idea. What if they could host the event online, without compromising on the best parts of a gala dinner that guests usually enjoy? Getting dressed up; enjoying the atmosphere; good entertainment; a delicious meal served; and an auction to top it all off. “We had begun to build a really good line-up,” said David. “Scotland captain Andy Robertson; Harry and Sandra Redknapp; Judy Murray; Tom Grennan on music. But we knew it wouldn’t be enough as just a show on a screen, so we started to think about how we could make it unique.”

“We had begun to build a really good line-up ... but we knew it wouldn’t be enough as just a show on a screen, so we started to think about how we could make it unique.”

David and the team brought their idea to the team at the EICC, who were already working hard to launch their new hybrid events initiative, Make It Edinburgh Live. The solution aims to provide the most authentic event experience possible in the current circumstances by bringing it either partially or fully online, whilst being adaptable to the client’s unique vision and needs.

On Saturday 30 May, just three weeks on from that initial idea, the event was delivered. David believes this was testament to the professionalism of the team at the EICC. “We already knew what we wanted to do with the event,” said David, “but we didn’t realise the extent of the expertise and support that the EICC could provide. They have a really professional backroom team who helped us to put it all together to deliver a really top quality production, and we had a strong contingency plan in case things didn't go right.

“We decided to make it a black tie event - giving people a reason to have a night out, indoors! Celebrity chef Nick Nairn designed the dinner menu and he recorded a live cooking session so that people could prepare the meal themselves. It created a fantastic sense of unity - everyone was posting pictures of their food on Twitter.”

“All the feedback we’ve had complimented how professional it was. The EICC team just did an amazing job”

Richard Lloyd, Technical and ICT Operations Manager at the EICC, led the production of the event. “Everybody who was presenting or participating was remote,” said Richard. “We had a small crew working from the EICC, making the most of our venue’s assets: abundant floor space which allows for socially distanced working, and very strong internet access for a smooth production.”

Engaging the audience

Alongside the stream of speakers and entertainers, the team incorporated interactive elements to bring all the attendees together. There were opportunities for guests to ask questions to the panel, and a live auction ran during the event with people bidding using their smartphones. “Of course, the technology we use is very clever,” says Richard. “But it wouldn’t happen without the people: both here at the EICC, and the Street Soccer Scotland team who put the content of their event together and let us take control of delivering it.”

The evening was a huge success, raising over £70,000 for Street Soccer Scotland. “We were absolutely delighted with how it went,” said David. “We had great content, and that matched up with seamless production made for a winning combination. What I really liked about it was that it involved the whole family. It was more accessible, too - we had people from all over the world tuning in.

“All the feedback we’ve had complimented how professional it was. The EICC team just did an amazing job; it was a real team effort. We've already been contacted by numerous organisations who want to get involved. We really look forward to working with the EICC again.”

On Thursday 18 June, Street Soccer Scotland hosted a webinar to share their experience of holding a gala dinner online - an opportunity for other organisations to discover more about the potential of hybrid events. Members of the EICC team were on hand to explain the technical aspects and answer any questions from the attendees.

For more information on how to create your hybrid event with the EICC, please contact Debbie on [email protected] or 0131 300 3333