Ipswich Town player Will Keane's kickabout with team of homeless people
PUBLISHED: 13:15 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:15 19 March 2019
One of Ipswich Town's top stars kicked a ball with homeless people as part of a project to support those facing some of the toughest hardships in life.
Members of the Salvation Army Lyndon House Lifehouse football team visited the Blues’ Portman Road ground as part of the English Football League’s Day of Action, designed to highlight awareness about society’s biggest issues.
Player Will Keane joined players from Lyndon House in Fore Street, Ipswich, which offers accommodation and specialist support for men experiencing homelessness, for a training session.
Stephen Gray, a specialist support worker at Lyndon House, started the football training - which usually takes place at the Goals soccer centre in Ipswich - to build a sense of community while also promoting a positive and healthy lifestyle.
“Football can provide a good release for the guys and the struggles they’re going through,” he said.
“A day like this is brilliant for them. They were all very excited and seeing a professional footballer gives them a bit of inspiration as well as a few tips to use on the pitch.”
Keane said: “It was great to meet the lads and hear their stories.
“Football can unite people and I hope that this experience was beneficial to them because they deserve it.
“It was fantastic to meet the staff as well. They should be very proud of all the work they do.”
Rough sleeping in Ipswich town centre is said to have fallen dramatically due to a multipronged attack on the causes of homelessness over the winter.
For example, Ipswich Winter Night Shelter has helped 20 people move into housing over the winter, with Ms Hancock saying: “Having longer with them means we’ve had more time to help change their lives.”
It is thought that while the official rough sleeping count for Ipswich over the 2017-18 winter was 27, the tally was “only just in double figures” this season.
The Salvation Army is a church and charity dedicated to caring for people who are vulnerable or in need.
Through the Lifehouse and churches on Bramford Road, Woodbridge Road and Queensway, it offers compassionate support, practical help and a warm welcome to all.
To learn more visit salvationarmy.org.uk