Charity tackles homelessness through football

A charity set up to give homeless people the chance to play football had a number of very special people in the crowd at their end-of-season tournament.

Award-winning Liverpool Homeless Football Club was set up in 2007 and became a charity in 2019.

Former professional referee Chris Foy and Liverpool legend John Barnes joined Steve Morgan Foundation’s Director of Regional Grants, Jane Harris, at their season finale.

The Steve Morgan Foundation is a long-term supporter of the charity and awarded them £45,800 alongside the Community Match Challenge Fund to help them deal with the pandemic, having previously funded a Smiley Bus.

Charity CEO John Finnigan has worked in the housing and homeless field for the last 35 years and his association with the charity began in 2007 as a football manager of a Liverpool hostel.

Since then he’s held various roles including the vice chair, chairman and more recently CEO.

He said: “Initially it started off as a group of hostels playing football against each other and it grew from there to include health checks.

“We were given a Smiley minibus by the Steve Morgan Foundation about six years ago, which was a massive thing for us.

“Being homeless is about a lot more than just having a roof over your head. A lot of homeless people struggle with drug addiction, violence, legal issues, personal issues and a great deal more.

“Our organisation’s motto is ‘more than just football’ and aims to provide positive experiences for homeless men and women across Merseyside.

“People were stuck in a hostel and bored. Liverpool Homeless Football Club was about getting them out and about and meeting other people.

“Playing football offers the chance to build confidence and self-esteem, develop team building and social skills and improve overall health and well-being.

“The funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation and the Community Match Challenge Fund enabled us to bring in extra volunteers to help deal with Covid. There is a real collaboration.”

The Spirit of Merseyside League is a five-a-side league with 18 teams spread across three divisions.

During Covid-19 the charity’s costs went up so in order to adhere to strict PPE protocols they applied to the Steve Morgan Foundation for help meeting their mounting costs.

The end-of-season tournament took place at Powerleague in Liverpool and was attended by former England and Liverpool winger John Barnes and ex-referee Chris Foy.

Jane Harris, who also attended the end-of-season football tournament, praised the work of the charity, said: “As well as providing physical and mental health support Liverpool Homeless Football Club has been able to offer a clear pathway of hope to create positive changes in the lives of people who find themselves homeless.”

 

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