A team of Salvation Army footballers from Sunderland are getting set to compete in the charity’s national homelessness tournament.
Now in its eighth year, the event will see more than 20 football teams from across Salvation Army’s homelessness services in the British Isles, compete in hope of winning the Partnership Trophy.
Players who are currently living at the city’s Salvation Army Lifehouse Swan Lodge - supported accommodation for people experiencing homelessness - will take part in the tournament on Thursday, September 27, in Manchester.
The event aims to celebrate the achievements of service users, promote a positive and healthy activity and boost the confidence of people who have tackled many obstacles in their lives.
Swan Lodge service manager Christine Ritchie said: “For many of our residents, the Partnership Trophy provides a fun day out and a break from the obstacles they are tackling in their day-to-day lives.
“At Swan Lodge Lifehouse, we are keen to promote meaningful activities that will be enjoyable for our residents but will also help break through the social isolation many of them have experienced while they have been homeless, as well as giving them a vital opportunity to build useful lifeskills, improve their health and wellbeing through exercise and to work together and make new friends.
“We’re also hoping to bring home the trophy to Sunderland and make the city proud!”
Mark, who is currently living at Swan Lodge, said: “I’ve always loved football since I was a kid.
“Football takes my mind off things - when I kick a ball about, it makes me happy. “We’ve been training every week and I’m really looking forward to us playing as a team on Thursday and to the atmosphere on the day.”
England women’s record goalscorer, Kelly Smith, will be the special guest at this year’s tournament.
Director of The Salvation Army’s Homelessness Services, Mitch Menagh, says it is an honour to have Kelly attending the 2018 tournament.
He said: “The Partnership Trophy is a celebration of everything our residents have overcome and achieved and it’s a day for everyone in our services to come together – staff, volunteers and clients alike - for some healthy competition and a bit of fun.
“Having Kelly there will be a real highlight and it will be great for our service users to be able to hear her experiences from on and off the pitch.
“We recognise that it’s not just food and shelter that is needed to help people rebuild their lives so in our Lifehouses, alongside our training in basic life skills and housing, employment and addiction support services, we also provide support that boosts people’s confidence and wellbeing.”