50 care leavers given tickets to Sunderland's Boxing Day game thanks to fans' donations

Care leavers will get the chance to take in Sunderland AFC's Boxing Day fixture thanks to the generosity of others.

Friday, 21st December 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Friday, 21st December 2018, 6:33 am
Care leavers who have been given tickets to the Sunderland AFC v Bradford City game alongside players Glenn Loovens, Bryan Oviedo and Reece James, club managing director Tony Davidson, and mayor of Sunderland Councillor Lynda Scanlan.

Fifty young people who are in receipt of support from Next Steps were handed the tickets for next Wednesday’s game against Bradford City at the Stadium of Light, which will see a crowd of over 40,000.

Next Steps is the care leaving service of Together for Children, which provides practical advice and guidance to young people aged 16 to 25 on topics that include benefits, housing, accommodation, education and employment to help the youngsters to achieve their potential.

Some of the youngsters set to go to the game met with first team players Glenn Loovens, Bryan Oviedo and Reece James and mayor of Sunderland Councillor Lynda Scanlan as they were handed the tickets at the stadium.

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The donation is part of the Gift of Football scheme devised by Black Cats fan Simon Baty earlier this month.Since then more than 1,600 tickets have been purchased and donated back to the Foundation of Light.

SAFC managing director Tony Davidson told the Echo: “Since the chairman Stewart Donald shared the story, Sunderland fans have taken control of it and the business community in the city has been fantastic too.

“It’s really helped with our aims of getting a crowd of 40,000 through the door on Boxing Day and everyone has had a part to play.

“If we can get to 42,785 it will be the biggest attendance in the Football League, which just shows the potential of the club.”

Together for Children’s Nikki Donaldson said: “Some of these young people have never been to a Sunderland game before in their lives so they’re really looking forward to it.

“It’s very nice of the club and the supporters who’ve donated to help with things so that they have the opportunity to go.”

Coun Scanlan added: “It’s great that the football club want to do this for these young people, because they can give them the chance to do things they wouldn’t normally be able to do.

“It just shows that people really do pull together in Sunderland for children who are in this situation.

“Hopefully it’ll be a great day and the team will get another win.”