Teams from Salvation Army centres which provide accommodation and support for people experiencing homelessness travelled across the country to compete in a special five a side football tournament yesterday.
Former Liverpool FC and England striker Emile Heskey was at the event to lead a masterclass and present the trophy to the winning team.
This is the sixth year The Salvation Army’s Homelessness Services has run The Partnership Trophy which will saw more than 30 teams compete from its Lifehouses (centres which provide accommodation and support for men and women experiencing homelessness). This year’s winning team was from Booth House in Whitechapel, London who fought a tough battle in the final against the team from Swan Lodge in Sunderland.
It is 15 years since Emile, who has 62 caps, played a key role in England’s historic 5-1 win against Germany so he is well placed to give advice on how to work as an effective team. As well experiencing success as part of the England team, Emile also played for Leicester City, Liverpool FC, Birmingham City, Aston Villa, Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers.
Emile Heskey, said: “It’s great that The Salvation Army recognises the power of sport and the part it can play in supporting people experiencing homelessness. It’s good to see that they understand how football is a great leveller as once you’re on the pitch you’re judged on your skill rather than anything else. Meeting service users at today's Partnership Trophy has been incredibly inspiring and will stay with me. It's been a fantastic day and it's been very interesting finding out more about the support The Salvation Army provides."
The Salvation Army believes in a person centred approach to supporting people who are experiencing homelessness and see service users as individuals.
Catrin Stark, The Salvation Army Homelessness Services’ Programme Development Manager, who organises The Partnership Trophy, said: “At The Salvation Army we understand that you can’t tackle homelessness by providing just a bed. We provide an extensive programme of support and spend time with each individual to find out what their goals are. We encourage our service users to play sport and many of our Lifehouses have their own teams.
“Our annual Partnership Trophy provides a great focus and teams train all year, learning how to work together with one common goal. Many of our service users are facing huge personal challenges but they can leave that all behind them when they walk onto the pitch. The endorphins exercise can produce also provide a huge boost.
"This year's tournament has been another fantastic and successful day with so many talented and hard working service users. Two told me that today has been the best day ever which is just so wonderful to hear. For many of them Emile Heskey is their hero and just the fact he's taken the time to talk to them has given them a huge boost to their self confidence and self esteem as has playing in a team and working with fellow service users."
Faisal Ahmad, assistant support worker and manager of Booth House's football teams, said: "It means a lot to the team and all the service users at Booth House to win today. All our team members put a huge amount of work into training. Taking part makes such a difference as, in some cases, it's the first step in getting service users to engage and can lead to them making progress and getting involved in other areas of work at the Lifehouse. Today's win is the culmination of so much hard work - it's fantastic."