How Huddersfield Town is tackling homelessness in the community
The Huddersfield Town Foundation has distributed more than £13,000 across the charities, to help offer support to region’s rough sleepers in the region, with a further £8,000 to be donated to other organisations later in the year.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post Siobhan Atkinson, the chief executive for the Huddersfield Town Foundation, said the football club was aiming to tackle a growing homelessness crisis in Kirklees, and create a lasting legacy of “hope,” to some of the most vulnerable across Kirklees.
Miss Atkinson, 45, who has more than 20 years experience in the professional sport industry, said: "It’s about making the whole environment that we live better for everyone and the football club has a real social responsibility to do that - because we know that anyone can be homeless, it doesn’t just pick you.
"You can be a really successful person in business and then six months down the line you might be homeless. You could have a situation in your home life - whether it is linked with mental health, a relationship break down or you lose a child. All of those things that can trigger becoming homeless."
She added: "There is no doubt that there is an increased demand for support...The Town Foundation remains committed to tackling the issue head on and with many charities being unable to fund raise this year.
"Particularly going into winter spending a night sleeping rough is never great... Who wants to be on the street in December when it's minus 10 and you've got no clothing and you've not had any warm food for two or three days - that is pretty tough."
Included in the eight charities to receive vital funds was the Hirsche Foundation, which will use £2,500 to turn a disused bus into a safe place for people in need to stay and Platform 1, a men’s health and crisis charity based in the centre of Huddersfield, who will use £2,000 for extra pastoral care for their clients, including those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Bob Morse, who founded Platform 1 two years ago - which operates from a converted train carriage based on St George's Square near Huddersfield Station Platform 1, said the funding was vital, with the charity seeing up to four homeless people or those in danger of becoming homeless a week.
He said: "The funding is absolutely crucial...By expanding pastoral care means we can get out to more people in need.
"Our men find a safe place where they can be respectfully treated regardless of the things that have lead them into crisis, or a place to avoid that crisis before it occurs and then helps them to recover, repair rebuild and then re-join family, friends, community and society."
Another recipient of funding was the Destitute Asylum Seekers Huddersfield (DASH), who support Refugees and Asylum Seekers in areas such as Housing, Health, Education and Finance.
During lockdown, DASH worked to secure emergency accommodation for five people who were homeless and the £1,430 grant was used to purchase mobile phone top up cards, enabling those in need to stay in touch with their support coordinators, and access essential welfare services including access to foodbanks, healthcare, English lessons and updated COVID-19 guidance.
Maeve Larkin, the manager at DASH, said: "Above all, this connectivity meant that our most vulnerable clients felt less alone."
The funding was raised from the football club’s third Big Sleep Out event, which takes place annually in March, with 100 per cent of the funds raised being donated to homeless charities and organisations across Kirklees.
Over the last three years more than £128,000 has been raised from the yearly event with 480 vulnerable people supported.
Miss Atkinson, who has been in post since January 2019, after a previous eight year stint as the Community Development Executive at the Premier League, said: "I don't think homelessness will ever be fully eradicated - what I would hope is that we can play our part in bringing it down to really manageable levels across Kirklees and for those who do find themselves in that situation.
"We've got to find a way of helping them... It's giving that helping hand to people to help themselves to get better."
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