Oldham Athletic has today become the first professional football club to promise to be Homeless-Friendly.
Latics have pledged to make the club a hub of help for the homeless, providing information for rough sleepers on where they can receive medical care, whilst also raising the awareness about the health and social issues the vulnerable face. Players and staff will also take part in practical acts such as distributing warm clothing on the streets.
The announcement has been made on the day that the partners in the World Sleep Out were announced. The aim of this campaign is to wake people up all over the globe to the plight of homeless people – with representatives from the club and the charity present at Manchester's official event, held around the environs of the Lime Square Medical Practice in Openshaw on December 7th (Learn more about the drive at https://social-bite.co.uk/worlds-big-sleep-out/).
"I cannot over-emphasise how important it is to have a professional football club of such tradition involved in the battle against homelessness" said charity creator and NHS campaigner, Dr Zahid Chauhan. “Oldham will promote a better understanding of homelessness, reducing its stigma. Their fans can learn how to support a rough sleeper and crucially, the club will take part in activities to aid rough sleepers – spreading hope that their life expectancy extends beyond 47-years-of-age."
Homeless-Friendly was formed by Dr Chauhan after he encountered a rough sleeper removing his own teeth with pliers – because they were giving him so much pain. Initially it was aimed at health carers; and hospitals, hospices and a host of GP surgeries have now promised to care for homeless people, regardless of whether or not they have a permanent address. Businesses, charities and local authorities have also joined the scheme and help for the homeless is now connected so that patients who turn up at surgeries can also receive help to curb addiction and find work and accommodation.
Amongst the activities, Oldham Athletic has promised:
- To station a small information point for homeless people at Boundary Park.
- Dedicate a match to Homeless-Friendly, with bucket collections where the charity will take to the pitch to promote the programme.
- Write regular awareness-raising articles in the Latics' matchday programme explaining issues such as how to help a homeless person with hypothermia amongst other issues they face.
- Run initiatives with other local charities that are Homeless-Friendly.
On the new partnership, Managing Director of the club Natalie Atkinson said: "Linking in with the great work that Homeless-Friendly do is so important for us as a club.
"It's a big issue for Greater Manchester and as part of our 'One Club, One Town' vision we want to help those less fortunate and show that Oldham Athletic really cares."
Dr Chauhan concluded: "Although we have seen high-profile individuals such as Sir Alex Ferguson and Vincent Kompany do so much for the homeless, this is the first club to promise to look at everything they do and ensure they serve those without a permanent home.
"We are confident that their example will be a comfort and inspiration to their community and will spur other organisations and indeed professional clubs to become Homeless Friendly."
Do you want your organisation to pledge to be Homeless-Friendly? Visit http://www.homelessfriendly.co.uk/join-us
To join the 300 people sleeping out on December 7th, email firstname.lastname@example.org