Latics in the help to tackle homelessness
Beating other teams might be Oldham Athletic’s primary goal, but off the pitch they are just as proud of their “one town, one club” ethos – a cover for the club’s social and charity works.
“Latics”, as they are universally known, have just teamed-up with a new charity to become the first professional football club in the world to be Homeless-Friendly.
Owner Abdallah Lemsagam has pledged to examine club policies to make sure they cater for homeless people.
That includes taking part in schemes to hand out clothes to people on the street, and to stage a small “homeless hub” at the club’s Boundary Park home to provide support and information for those with no fixed address.
The Boundary Bulletin match-day programme will also feature articles on homelessness, including what to do if you are worried about someone living on the streets. Latics will also dedicate a fixture to Homeless-Friendly, at which bucket collections will be made, while also taking part in Greater Manchester’s event for the World Big Sleep Out in December.
Local GP and health campaigner Dr Zahid Chauhan formed Homeless-Friendly when he met a rough sleeper pulling painful teeth from his own mouth with a pair of pliers – because he couldn’t register with a dentist.
Other street sleepers had walked nearly ten miles to A&E units as there wasn’t a surgery prepared to treat them.
Homeless-Friendly has persuaded hospitals, hospices and surgeries to change their working practices and to ensure rough sleepers get the same quality treatment as everyone else.
They have now been joined by cafes willing to provide food for the homeless, as well as churches and community centres who host flu jab sessions, clinics and now organisations like Latics, who are at the heart of the community and able to offer practical information.
“The average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is only 47 years,” said Dr Chauhan. “Financial experts say many of us are only two lost pay cheques away from becoming homeless. That’s why it is important to help rough sleepers to help themselves. Oldham Athletic is a club of great tradition and at the heart of its community. I can’t tell you how pleased we are to have them on-side. I am sure they will spur others to become Homeless-Friendly too.”
Would you like your business to pledge to become Homeless-Friendly? Visit http://www.homelessfriendly.co.uk.
Oldham Athletic is working hard to become the focal point for the town and a hub of the community, working closely with public bodies and promoting local collaboration. For Latics, it’s one club, one town.
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