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Category: Homelessness

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Sunderland offer homeless people shelter from freeze in ‘warm room’

• Club offers hot food and places to sleep at Stadium of Light• North-east hit hard by UK’s brutal weatherSunderland turned a usually quiet corner of the Stadium of Light into a temporary shelter for homeless people on Friday.Acutely conscious that the…

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Harry Redknapp ‘will make 30 people homeless’ with flats plan

Ex-football manager’s firm criticised over scheme to demolish property housing vulnerable individuals in BournemouthPlans by the football manager Harry Redknapp to demolish a former hotel and replace it with “posh” apartments would result in 30 people …

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Mexico win both men’s and women’s Homeless World Cup

The Homeless World Cup came to a close in Glasgow on Saturday, with Mexico winning both the men’s and women’s finals

The curtain came down on the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow on Saturday, with both the Mexican men and women’s teams taking home the silverware and retaining their titles.

More than 50 teams took part in the 14th tournament, which was described as a “wonderful success” by the organisers, the Homeless World Cup Foundation, which was set up to support and inspire homeless people through the sport.

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The first Street Child Games has already brought the spirit of the Olympics to Rio

The Olympians on their way to Brazil will be following a group of young athletes who made their own remarkable journeys to Rio earlier this year

With only 100 days until the world turns its eyes towards the Maracanã for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games, serious doubts remain about Brazil’s capacity to deliver the event. But Rio de Janeiro has already hosted an alternative Olympics this year. The inaugural Street Child Games gave former homeless children the chance to become medal winners last month, offering an inspiring example of how grassroots sport can elevate the most marginalised groups and give them the opportunity to show their potential.

Take the cases of 14-year-old Hepsiba and 20-year-old Innocent, who were both among the medal winners. Hepsiba, who lives with her mother in a night shelter in Chennai on the Bay of Bengal, picked up gold, silver and bronze medals for India in the 100m, 400m and 100m hurdles, giving her the confidence to continue training and pursue her dream of becoming a professional athlete.

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Protest against efforts to oust homeless from ‘Super Bowl City’ – video

Protesters take to the streets on Wednesday to raise awareness of the impact the Super Bowl is having on homeless people in San Francisco. According to protesters, ‘Super Bowl City’, where the festivities are due to take place, has taken over space that the homeless used to sleep on, and those gathered also object to the $5m San Francisco taxpayers will contribute to the cost of the event. There was a heavy police presence at the protest, with the big game due to take place on Sunday

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San Francisco sets up for Super Bowl 50, but where will the homeless go?

Many believe efforts to relocate homeless people to make space for massive Super Bowl 50 festivities is a ‘further example of the inequity in the city’

Rolf Stagg huddled near the city’s waterfront on a recent morning, rolled some loose tobacco inside a torn scrap of newspaper and watched with a mix of derision and curiosity as a massive football fan village rose before his eyes.

“They chase us out like cattle,” the 62-year-old Stagg said, as his hangouts disappeared under metal bandstands and banners heralding Super Bowl 50. “We’re not allowed to be here when the rich people come around? I don’t believe in that.”

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Jamie Carragher, Juan Mata and the charitable footballers making a difference

The release of Deloitte’s Money League amid the January transfer window shows the extortionate amount of wealth in football, but it’s also worth remembering that the game produces some admirable philanthropists and ambassadors

By Richard Foster for The Agony and the Ecstasy of the Guardian Sport Network

As Jamie Carragher played his last game for Liverpool on 19 May 2013 and contemplated his retirement, he had very little to prove. His 737th appearance for his one and only club cemented his status as an Anfield legend, but he had already laid down plans to help others less fortunate than himself. In 2010 Carragher decided to donate the proceeds raised from his testimonial to setting up his own charitable foundation. The money from the testimonial gave the Carragher 23 Foundation an initial fund of over £1m and created an endowment that is to be used to for contributions to local charities, clubs and community initiatives in perpetuity.

The 37-year-old admits to harbouring early doubts. “To be honest, at first I was a bit unsure about what it entailed but that’s why using the community foundation route was crucial as you have a team of people at hand when you need help.”

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Sierra Leone’s top sprinter living homeless and hungry in London – video

After last summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Sierra Leone’s top sprinter Jimmy Thoronka, 20, went missing. The Guardian has found him hungry and homeless in London. While in the UK, Jimmy received the devastating news that his family had been wip…

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Fara Williams: ‘I had football. A lot of homeless girls have nothing’

England’s most capped player, set to play her 136th international against Germany at Wembley, on how football gave her the focus and belief to overcome homelessness Continue reading…

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Homeless World Cup 2014 kicks off in Chile – video

Sixty-three teams from 49 nations compete in the annual Homeless World Cup on Sunday. Over 350 five-a-side matches will be held over the next week in the Chilean capital Santiago. The Homeless World Cup organisation say they work with selected players …

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Daniel Agger pays for Denmark team to go to Homeless World Cup in Chile

Former Liverpool defender covers shortfall for teams trip Charity: There is no substitute for class, and Daniel has it Agger left Anfield to return to old club Brondby last month Continue reading…

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Power of football harnessed to change the lives of homeless people

Homeless FA runs training courses attached to major clubs such as Arsenal and Manchester United that offer a great deal of hope

Daniel Fortune was homeless, and living in a hostel last year. “I was just in a rut, really. Just sitting around feeling sorry for myself, thinking ‘Why is it always me? Everything’s so bad with my life.'” Then he saw a poster that asked if he wanted to play football for his country, and his life was changed.

The Homeless FA was established to use football as a method of helping people who, for whatever reason, have found themselves homeless, to change their lives. “Helping” is the key word in that sentence – the charity are keen to stress that it is only the people themselves who can truly change, they simply provide the structure and support to help.

At the heart of the Homeless FA’s work are five-week training courses at various centres around the country, all of which are attached to clubs including Arsenal, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Norwich City and Sunderland. Players attend the courses for one day a week, during which they are given football coaching sessions, as well as various forms of personal development support. They are given kit from whichever team their training centre is attached to, and are often taken to matches and given a “VIP experience”.

The football aspect is vital, because it provides a “hook”, a way of drawing people in to help themselves. Lynsey Horsfield, the Homeless FA’s head of research, explains: “The importance of professional football clubs involvement is that they can step into this really positive ‘identity’. In England especially we give such value to the ‘brand’ of football clubs, and even individuals who support Spurs will put on an Arsenal shirt because they recognise the value to that identity.”

From the training centres, 40 players – 20 men, 20 women – are selected to play for England at the annual Homeless World Cup (last year held in Poznan, this year will be Santiago), but unlike many other countries, selection for Team England is not based on football ability. Players are chosen based on various other criteria, including behaviour, personal development and health, something Gareth Parker, head of the Homeless FA, is keen to stress.

“Whenever I’ve done any sort of media before people always ask ‘Will we win the World Cup?’ And I say, frankly, no, because there are nations out there who are taking this as a football project, and that’s their decision. We have decided from the outset to use football as positive change in someone’s life, and that can only be done by investing in the individual, not in a footballer.”

At the end of the year, those 40 players are invited to an event at St George’s Park, where they play on the pitches Roy Hodgson’s England team train on, and are presented with “hero portraits”, professionally-taken shots of them in their England kit.

These experiences might seem fleeting, but the effects are long-lasting. The programme genuinely changes the lives of the people on it.

“It’s a sense of achievement,” Fortune says. “Not many people get the chance to go and see their team play and meet the coaches and see the dressing rooms, so when someone who is homeless gets the chance to do that, they think ‘Hang on, maybe it’s not all bad, maybe there are opportunities for me.'”

Tom Queripel was also homeless, his life heading nowhere particularly good, before he became part of the Homeless FA, but now he is a living example of the wider impact it can have.

“It makes you feel that there are people like you, who are going through the same things,” he says. “It doesn’t only make yourself feel good inside, but it makes other people around you think you’re worth something, that you’ve achieved something, that you can make something of your life. There’s no negativity here. It’s all positives, because we’re all in the same boat. We’re all friends.

“It’s to do with us having the determination to change our lives. I couldn’t have done it without this course. It’s changing my life, but it’s also changing the lives of people around me. You’re not just walking out the door with a qualification, you’re walking out a completely different person.”

One of the most striking things about observing the players as they work is their enthusiasm, something that is inspired by football but not confined to it. Many of them have rarely been supported or even encouraged in their life before, but the Homeless FA provides just that support, giving them a sense of confidence that they channel into fixing their own lives outside the game.

A key part of that is the personal involvement that their staff have. Watching them with the players isn’t like watching people work, it’s more akin to friends helping each other out.

“I think the organisation gets under everyone’s skin,” says Parker. “You can see immediately the impact it’s having on people, which is very powerful … You see someone grow before your eyes so you want to support them more, and you want to be able to empower them more.”

Horsfield agrees: “I think what’s really important about the staff, the volunteers and the players being so closely involved is it’s not segregated. I’d argue that there are a lot of organisations where the beneficiaries are to one side, and to the other very distinct side are the staff, and never the two shall meet. But I think there is a lot of value to people from different backgrounds coming together and meeting and working together.”

As the organisation grows, that level of personal contact will be almost impossible to sustain, which is one of the reasons for the “peer mentoring” scheme they have established. Players who have already been through the programme can apply to continue working with them, the idea being to pass on their skills and experiences in a way that the permanent members of staff aren’t able to. It was striking that virtually all the players at St George’s Park have applied for the coming year. One of those players, Rosie Martin, was recently appointed as their peer mentor coordinator, something Parker believes is crucial to their continuing success.

“They can give insight that we can’t,” he says. “As welcoming and as non-judgmental as we are, we still haven’t been through that situation, so to have someone as an authority figure who has done that, helps us and also gives the players that belief that they can develop within the organisation.”

As well as creating this empathy, it’s important to note that their methods are not just thought up on a whim – they’re based on research and evidence. They have investigated what works, how it works and why it works, and another big part of the organisation is putting together a model to pass on, helping their centres to deliver their training methods.

Inspiration is one of those words that has been so overused that the meaning has changed, but it’s difficult to think of another that will do. You only have to talk to some of the people that have been part of the Homeless FA to understand that.

“Putting the word Homeless on a crest and turning that into a positive is pretty amazing,” says Fortune. “People think of a homeless person as someone who has nowhere to live, nothing, no money etc, whereas things like this changes the perception of what they think homeless is.

“Whenever I see my kit or my jacket with the crest, I feel a sense of pride.”

• To find out more about the work of the Homeless FA, including information on how to apply for one of their training centres, please visit their website

• The Homeless FA is a not for profit organisation which relies on grants, trusts and individual and corporate donations to fund its important work. If people wish to donate they can do so here. There are also several sponsorship opportunities available, including that of Team England. Please email info@homelessfa.org for more information.

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