The Salvation Army’s Partnership Trophy returns for an eighth year
published on 21 Sep 2018
The Salvation Army’s annual homelessness football tournament, the Partnership Trophy, will kick off in Manchester next week.
The Partnership Trophy brings together more than 20 teams from The Salvation Army’s lifehouses (hostels) and homelessness support services.
The country’s greatest female footballer, Kelly Smith, will be the special guest at this year’s tournament.
Kelly Smith - currently a player and coach for Arsenal, with 177 caps and an unbeaten record of scoring 46 goals for England - will be meeting and chatting with participants throughout the day, and sharing some top tips in a skills session.
Director of The Salvation Army’s Homelessness Services Mitch Menagh says it’s an honour to have Kelly attending the 2018 tournament.
“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 service users 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 share her experiences from on and off the pitch.”
The Partnership Trophy is another way of promoting positive and independent living to service users, Mitch says.
“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 well-being.
“Exercise and sport is a positive way for people to spend their time, as well as boosting both their physical and mental health,” he says.
One of the players taking part is 27-year-old Stephen, a resident at a Salvation Army lifehouse in Ipswich. Stephen had a tough childhood, growing up with parents who were addicted to drugs and alcohol. After being kicked out of his family home, he lived with a girlfriend until the relationship broke down, and he found himself sleeping rough.
“Being homeless breaks you. It makes you think you’re worthless,” Stephen says.
“As my life got harder and harder I would drink more and more. It got to the point when I was drinking 40 odd units a day.”
Throughout this time, Stephen tried to hold down a job but at a particularly low point, Stephen lost his job.
“I was really struggling and I took some money out of the till. I got arrested, charged, sacked.”
He was referred to The Salvation Army’s Lyndon House Lifehouse. A room became available and Stephen moved in December 2017. Stephen receives specialist support from The Salvation Army and other local agencies to help him tackle his alcohol addiction as well as the root causes that led to his addiction and homelessness.
In addition to a personal support worker, food and accommodation, The Salvation Army also offers activities for residents including football training every Friday. Stephen is a committed team member and is travelling to Manchester in September with his team mates to compete in the Partnership Trophy.
Stephen says: “Feeling like your part of a team is so uplifting. I feel like I’m part of something that’s productive – not just for myself but for the other lads too.”
When Stephen is ready, he hopes to move into his own flat. He says: “This place is a stepping stone for me to move to the next level.”
The Partnership Trophy will be held at Goals Manchester from 10:30am on Thursday 27 September.