The nationally acclaimed Kent-based charity, The Street Soccer Foundation, is to host the first ever Sleep Out event to take place at the home of Gillingham FC.
On Saturday 30th June 2018 a number of business leaders from across the County will each be giving up their bed for a sleeping bag, to sleep under the stars at Priestfield Stadium.
The Street Soccer Foundation supports young homeless people and those at risk through the delivery of its Street Soccer Academy: a development programme that improves participants’ health and well-being, confidence and self-belief system; and ultimately aims to help move individuals into what they term a ‘progressive pathway’: either work, education or further training.
The purpose of the inaugural Sleep Out event is to bring the local business community together to help understand some of the realities that young homeless people in Kent face.
CEO & Founder of The Street Soccer Foundation, Keith Mabbutt (pictured), said: “I’m extremely grateful to the Chairman of Gillingham Football Club and to all those working within the Community Trust at the club, who are supporting us to bring this event to life. We’re asking the Kent business community to give up just one night of comfort to help us raise the profile of rough sleeping across the County and to in turn ask their work colleagues, friends, family and professional network to sponsor them for doing so.
"I’ve never done anything like this before, to sleep outdoors at a football stadium, and I’m sure most working professionals haven’t. This is about giving up one night to help others less fortunate. It promises to offer an unforgettable experience.”
Homelessness in the County is on the rise and in the South East alone there are now an estimated 28,000 homeless individuals.
The Street Soccer Sleepout hopes to raise funds from the business community to enable it to deliver more Academy programmes next season, which has already helped a number of vulnerable young people from across Kent.
Mabbutt added: “A recent independently commissioned Social Value Report conducted on the work of The Street Soccer Foundation over this past season revealed we are generating up to £8 in social value for every £1 invested, demonstrating the impact our programme is making. We simply want to do more.”
Statistically, one in three homeless young people will attempt suicide and up to half of all homeless young people have no qualifications.
Kevin Tewis-Allen, Chief Marketing Officer for the Foundation, said: “Our mission is to create a network of young people who significantly benefit from our development programmes.
"We want to ensure that young people can find a home to live in, become employable, engage in new communities, become more active and provide our Foundation with real-life case studies that celebrate positive change.”
Individuals are being asked to sign up to sleep out, or to sponsor someone doing it.
The Street Soccer Sleep Out event will take place on Saturday 30th June at Gillingham FC, Priestfield Stadium from 7pm. To show your support and to sign up for free, please visit: www.streetsoccersleepout.org.uk