Multi-million-pound Premier League football clubs often face the accusation that they are disconnected from the communities that created them – but Crystal Palace are rewriting the script.
The South London club have joined up with Croydon Council to open the doors of their Selhurst Park stadium to rough sleepers offering protection from plummeting night time temperatures over winter.
Up to 10 rough sleepers will be able to stay at the stadium when there are sub-zero forecasts after being referred by outreach staff and will be offered a camp bed, hot evening meal, breakfast and washing facilities.
The space will then be converted back for club use in the morning where specialists from Croydon Council’s Gateway homelessness prevention service and Thames Reach support workers will work to find longer-term accommodation as well as offering financial advice and medical attention.
The Big Issue magazine is a social enterprise, a business that reinvests its profits in helping others who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or whose lives are blighted by poverty.
Crystal Palace Football Club chief executive Phil Alexander said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Croydon Council and their partner agencies to ensure that rough sleepers can find an emergency shelter in the event of severe winter weather.
“The club wants to be a force for good in the community and we are happy to do our bit to help those most in need.”
Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services, added: “Freezing temperatures are a particular safety risk for rough sleepers and this is a wonderful gesture by Crystal Palace for helping us reduce that risk. Crystal Palace are setting a standard for other clubs to follow.”
The club, who also work with homelessness charity Crisis, could now offer a template for other sports clubs with hundreds of stadiums across the country.
Crystal Palace are setting a standard for other clubs to follow
But they are not the only Premier League outfit who put their best foot forward to dismantle poverty.
The Big Issue has been working with Southampton FC and their charity Saints Foundation since 2017, kicking off with a unique matchday programme and growing to offer employment opportunities for vendors at Saints’ St Mary’s Stadium.
And the football club recently opened up the ground to raise money for The Big Issue Foundation, our charitable arm, with the Big Stadium Sleep Out.
Images: Ben Terrett/Flickr