13 July 2016 - 11:42am
In the aftermath of Portugal’s victory in Euro 2016 - a Parliamentary football team faced fierce opposition from football champions from a residential centre for people experiencing homelessness at a match in London on Tuesday.
The winners of The Salvation Army’s annual football tournament for residents from its homeless centres (known as Lifehouses) and other supported housing units run by The Salvation Army Housing Association (SAHA), known as the Partnership Trophy, took on the Parliamentarians in a celebratory match at Whittington Park Football Pitch in Holloway Road, London. The Lifehouse team made up of residents and former residents from Booth House, London won the Partnership Trophy five-a-side football tournament, which took place in September last year at Goals Manchester, and involved hundreds of homeless centre residents. Their rank in the tournament secured the team’s place in today’s match.
The last time Booth House took on an MP team after winning the Partnership Trophy was in 2013 - when the MPs conceded a 5-1 defeat to the Lifehouse team. Booth House won the match again today finishing up with a score of 6-3.
Jamel Paxton, 25, resident at Booth House in Whitechapel Road, said: “The match was great. It was nice to socialise with people, understand people from a different perspective, and different walks of life. I am looking forward to having a chat with the MPs, and to understand their political views. It is great to have been able to raise awareness but also to understand that the MPs are people too.”
Colin Cherubin, 34, first came to Booth House in 2013 and is now the team’s captain. He said: “It has been a great experience. Football brings people together, and it is great for us to develop teamwork and meet other people living in Booth House.”
Clive Betts MP (Lab), for Sheffield South East, said: “It was great to come and play with the people from Booth House. Recognising many of the team have been homeless and to just come and have a chance to have a great game of football and enjoy their company in a competitive and good game was fantastic.”
Mark Spencer MP (Con), for Sherwood, said: “Wherever you are you can find yourself in challenging circumstances, and I think it’s good for MPs to come and engage with people who’ve found themselves in those difficulties and listen to those stories.
“To a certain extent it’s quite humbling in that through no fault of their own some of these guys have found themselves homeless. The government has to try to do more to help people like this.”
The Salvation Army’s Deputy Territorial Director of Homelessness Services, Major Howard Russell, added:
“It was great to see the residents enjoying themselves, growing in confidence, and being part of a team. We hope this helps them realise they can make a positive difference in their lives. We believe experiences like this help promote a healthy lifestyle with our residents or former residents as well as developing life skills.
“Our Lifehouses provide a safe place for people who have experienced homelessness – helping them develop the life skills they need so they can move on with their lives. We believe that everyone has value and has a positive contribution to make. At our Lifehouses people find opportunities to engage with others, engage with education, training, and employment, and receive the support they need to move forward with their lives.”
The Football Association supported the event. The Salvation Army’s emergency service vehicle was pitchside to provide refreshments and Pret A Manger donated lunch. Booth House Lifehouse’s football strip was sponsored by the Canary Wharf Group, and the group have provided additional funding for football projects at Booth House.
The final scores were Parliament 3, Booth House 6.