The Westminster Diocesan Chaplain for Sport has urged sports teams to follow the lead of two Premier League clubs in creating and supporting initiatives for the homeless.
Mgr Vladimir Felzmann, who is also a Trustee of The Passage charity for the homeless, applauded Huddersfield Town A.F.C. and Southampton F.C. after both clubs announced plans to support the homeless.
Huddersfield chairman Dean Hoyle is to sleep in one of the stands at John Smith’s Stadium to raise money for homelessness charities.
He will be joined by local dignitaries and supporters for the ‘Big Sleep Out’ in March, which is being run by the club’s charitable arm, the Town Foundation.
The participants, who will be asked to raise £100 to take part, will sleep out on Friday 9th March.
Hoyle has pledged to meet all running costs, meaning 100 per cent of funds raised will go to homelessness causes.
Mgr Felzmann described the event, which came after a plea for support in local media from the Huddersfield Mission, as “a brilliant idea”.
“My role as Trustee of The Passage, which helps homeless people transform their lives, has educated me the past 30 years in the complex causes of homelessness, a problem for an increasing number people in Westminster and further afield,” Mgr Felzmann told The Universe.
The chaplain said Southampton’s announcement to take on four Big Issue sellers after completing an employability programme was “even more impressive and encouraging” and challenged other clubs to come up with further initiatives.
Southampton has taken on Gary Jackson, June Fullerton, Julie Cherry and Aaron New in its stewarding and conferences and events departments.
The club’s charity, the Saints Foundation, offered help with various skills.
“It would be great for the common good to roll out this sort of initiative throughout the Premier League and other financially sound clubs,” said Mgr Felzmann, who is also CEO of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport.
“How about offering a dozen free tickets for home matches to the local homeless community?” he added.
“Tickets … might motivate more homeless people to sign up for the training courses on offer, setting them firmly on their own passage to ending homelessness,” he added.
Last August Southampton released a special edition publication in partnership with the Big Issue.
The publication, which was available to purchase from Big Issue vendors, was sold as the club’s official match-day programme in their first game of the 2017/18 season against Swansea City at St Mary’s Stadium.
This weekend’s Premier League fixtures:
Saturday 3rd February
Burnley v Manchester City – 12:30pm
AFC Bournemouth v Stoke City – 3:00pm
Brighton & Hove Albion v West Ham United – 3:00pm
Leicester City v Swansea City – 3:00pm
Manchester United v Huddersfield Town – 3:00pm
West Bromwich Albion v Southampton – 3:00pm
Arsenal v Everton – 5:30pm
Sunday 4th February
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United – 2:15pm
Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur – 4:30pm
Monday 5th February
Watford v Chelsea – 8:00pm
Picture: Southampton F.C. Matchday programmes on sale in association with the Big Issue before the Saints faced Swansea City earlier this season. (Paul Harding/PA).