Over 120 fans braved the wind and rain at Old Trafford last Friday, the second of it&aposs kind at United&aposs home ground, as they swapped their beds for sleeping bags in a bid to raise vital funds and awareness for young people experiencing poverty and hardship during the winter months.
Those who took part bedded down while overlooking the iconic Old Trafford pitch as part of a special event, from which all funds raised will be split between the Manchester United Foundation and youth homelessness charity, Centrepoint.
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It is estimated that almost 136,000 young people in the UK were homeless or at risk of homelessness last year. Over the course of last season, the Foundation supported more than 25,000 young people by delivering community and education programmes across Greater Manchester.
Along with the sleep out, participants were able to share their real-life experiences and participate in activities such as listening to helpline calls, writing to participants from Foundation partner school, Manchester Enterprise Academy, who had experienced homelessness, and hearing from Joe, a young person supported by Centrepoint.
Former United defender David May joined supporters for the event and was delighted to show his support for such an important cause. He said: Im from North Manchester, born and raised in Middleton, so Manchester is very close to my heart. Its heartbreaking that people are sleeping outside in the pouring rain. Its not right. Ive been listening to a lovely lad, Joe, who was saying the difficulties of what its like day-in, day-out, being homeless, having to live on the streetsthis just brings it home, it really does.
Its a fantastic cause and a great turnout on a horrible night, but well have a few laughs along the way as well and keep it light-hearted, but the main thing is plenty of money being raised for the Foundation and Centrepoint. Im absolutely buzzing to be part of it.
Andy, a United fan and fundraiser, echoed the same sentiments when he accepted the challenge to aid those in need. He added: Not many people know that there are so many kids who are vulnerable, struggling, and homeless. If theres anything I can do to help somebody and raise awareness, thats what I want to do. A brand like United is a global voice, so its amazing to do stuff like this, and the Foundation partnering up with Centrepoint is huge to raise that awareness so that more people know whats going on, especially across the North West and the UK.
Looking down at the Stretford End is a good way to go to sleep. The rain isnt going to let up, but its nice having the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand and the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand to remember the bigger purpose of why were doing this.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, John Shiels MBE, Chief Executive of Manchester United Foundation, expressed his gratitude to those sleeping out. Our Old Trafford sleep out was such a humbling experience for the 100-plus supporters who selflessly bedded down for the night, in aid of Manchester United Foundation and Centrepoint.
Fortunately, spending the night sleeping rough was something we had to contend with for just one night and we had the privilege of doing so with the backdrop of Old Trafford as a motivating factor. The experience allows everyone to better appreciate the challenges that those sleeping rough must sadly face every day.
The sleep out was a life-affirming experience with a great camaraderie of everyone coming together for such a worthy cause. We are thankful to everyone who took part or donated, your contribution will make an immense difference to young people in hardship this winter.
Julie Milnes, Director of Fundraising at Centrepoint, added: Were so grateful to everyone who took part in the second Old Trafford sleep out who have raised vital funds for both Manchester United Foundation and Centrepoint.
Unfortunately, this money and the support we provide is needed more than ever. Centrepoints Helpline is taking more and more calls from young people facing homelessness and our frontline teams here are working hard every day to ensure these young people get the support they need.
We can change the story, though. The awareness weve created, and the funds raised, will go a long way in ensuring that young people in Greater Manchester and beyond have the best chances of moving on and leaving homelessness behind for good.
United&aposs fundraising efforts were supported by official club partners such as DXC Technology and Sportsbreaks.com, which had staff attend the event to help raise awareness.