Crystal Palace Football Club is opening is doors to rough sleepers in extreme weather after last year’s successful pilot saw two homeless men helped in to work.
Last year The Chronicle reported how a man sleeping outside Tesco was found employment after he took sanctuary at the emergency shelter set up at Selhurst Park.
Whenever the overnight temperature is forecast to fall below freezing the Glaziers lounge is converted into a temporary overnight shelter for up 10 rough sleepers, staffed by volunteers, including club staff, and specialists from Croydon council’s homelessness services.
New arrivals are welcomed with a camp bed for the night, a hot evening meal, breakfast and washing facilities and offered advice by staff from Croydon Council’s Gateway homelessness prevention service and its specialist outreach support workers from Thames Reach.
The club’s charity Palace for Life has also joined forces with national homelessness charity Crisis this Christmas to deliver fun football sessions and coaching to people experiencing homelessness in Croydon.
One of its trainees Jamil Smith has organised a Christmas Party for Brigstock House refugees.
Crystal Palace Football Club chief executive Phil Alexander said: “Our objective is not only to give rough sleepers a bed for the night, but also to help get them off the streets.”
Mr Alexander added: “Last year, we were able to find jobs for two people referred to the shelter.”
Councillor Alison Butler, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for homes and Gateway services, said: “By opening this shelter for the second winter running, Crystal Palace FC is once again playing a crucial role in supporting the council’s wider proactive work to get rough sleepers off the streets and on the road to a better future.”
First team players and several squad members from the Academy U18 and U23 teams (pictured above) also volunteered at a church food bank earlier in the year.
Premiership Defender Joel Ward said of the experience: “You don’t have to go too far to find poverty. We all know there are some extreme cases around the world, but there are also extreme cases on our doorstep that we can help or prevent.”