Three military veterans will be joining the Big PNE Sleep Out as a way to give back to the club and the city of Preston.Advertisement
Peter Judson, Chris Haddow and Steven Ford are regular attendees of the Preston North End Community Education Trust Forces programme’s social and exercise sessions.
Given their military backgrounds, and with Chris and Steven having had their own battles with homelessness, the trio felt that taking part in the Sleep Out at Deepdale Stadium would be the perfect way to give something back.
Organised by the Community Education Trust, Biffa, Blog Preston, Shout Network and The Foxton Centre, the Sleep Out will see hundreds of people bed down for the night on Friday 15 November to try to raise £50,000 for The Foxton Centre.
The charity is aiming to buy and renovate a property for the use of homeless people in Preston, an initiative that has garnered plenty of admiration from the Forces participants.
Peter said: “I saw that part of the Sleep Out was headed up by PNE Community and Education Trust, who have done a lot for us by letting us play as a veterans football team and helping us that way.
“We thought it was a big part of us as veterans, because we know that a lot of homeless people and rough sleepers are ex-forces.”
Current sign-up figures show there will be around 250 people taking part in the Sleep Out, made up of both individuals and businesses.
Read more: Big PNE Sleep Out team give update on BBC Radio Lancashire with John Gillmore
Chris said he believes there is a duty from the public to support those battling the issue of homelessness.
He said: “We’ve all got our own stories. Some of the guys have probably flirted with homelessness – I’ve been homeless.
“The city has got a public responsibility to homeless people and it doesn’t matter what their backgrounds are or what they’ve done in the past; everybody deserves a second chance.
“For Foxton to be in a position to be able to offer people a second chance is absolutely brilliant and anything I can do to support that, I’m 100 per cent behind it.”
Meanwhile Steven has been doing his utmost to promote his fundraising efforts, through which he discovered that members of his family were also getting involved – something he was unaware of until recently!
He said: “I have been trying to spread the word when I’ve been going to see clients or when I’ve been with friends or family. I’ve got a family member who’s doing the Sleep Out already and I didn’t even know she was doing it.
“She’s roped in my brother-in-law, who’s a season ticket holder at North End. He wasn’t on it until I came back from the information night and he was basically bullied into it, and was told, ‘You’re doing it!’, so that’s good.
“Within the military, it’s about helping other people and we basically just want to show that we’re happy to go through a bit of hardship just to give back.”
Read more: Preston North End online forum members join Big PNE Sleep Out efforts
The Forces team is planning to hold a fundraising night at Ribble Lodge on Saturday 9 November, less than a week before the Sleep Out itself, to boost their charitable efforts, with a series of a raffles, auctions and games taking place to maximise the amount of money they can donate to The Foxton Centre’s appeal.
The PNE Forces programme runs two events for past and current military personnel every Wednesday.
From 10am until 12pm, the Wings Centre hosts the Veterans’ Brunch Club, where at £2.50 a head, armed forces members can meet like-minded people and talk over breakfast or a drink while gaining knowledge of support services available to them in the area.
On a Wednesday evening there is a free football session held at the club’s community training centre at PlayFootball in Ingol, from 8pm until 9pm.
To learn more about the Forces programme, contact the PNE Community and Education Trust on email@example.com or 01772 693309.
To join Peter, Chris and Steven in raising money for The Foxton Centre –either by taking part in the Sleep Out itself or donating to the cause – visit the Big PNE Sleep Out page on the Foxton Centre website.
Read more: All the questions answered about the Big PNE Sleep Out