David Unsworth and the entire Everton Under-23 squad are helping to sponsor Christmas lunch at the Liverpool-based homeless charity, The Whitechapel Centre, this year.
The Blues’ Under-23 manager, his full team and the backroom staff are all putting money towards the festivities that will be taking place at The Whitechapel Centre on Sunday 25 December to make sure that every person there on the day has a full Christmas lunch as part of this year’s BlueCrimbo campaign.
Ahead of Christmas Day the full squad took part in a number of activities that concluded with a celebratory pre-Christmas lunch at the homeless centre. Some of the players helped to prepare food with first-team chef Paula Smith at the Club's training ground. More squad members were sent shopping to Tesco on County Road, located near Goodison Park, to buy necessities such as tinned foods and toiletries while the rest of the team paid a visit to the facility itself to serve dinner along with Unsworth.
While there the players took the time to sit down and talk to some of the regular service users to find out about some of their backgrounds and what they go through on a daily basis. They also spent time learning a bit more about the work the staff do to help and support homeless people throughout the city, trying to make sure that they don’t have to spend another night on the streets of Liverpool.
Unsworth said: “It’s been a fantastic occasion, it’s great that all of the players have given up their time to be here together and they’ve helped serve a brilliant Christmas dinner, all cooked by our chef at Finch Farm, Paula. They’ve all been talking to everyone, really getting involved and it makes me so proud as their manager to see them engaging. What has really stood out for me is that they have engaged because they want to and not because they have to.
“It’s not acceptable in this day and age for anyone to be homeless and not have the opportunity or be afforded the chance to get back on their feet again but if we can help then we will and we plan on continuing to do so.”
Everton midfielder and England youth international, Kieran Dowell, added: “It’s obviously the coldest time of the year and so it’s really important that there is access to a warm meal. If we can help to do so just by putting on this dinner, sitting down with some of them and helping for Christmas Day, then that’s great.
“Christmas is about family so it’s just great to see them with a smile on their faces, tucking into the dinner, I don’t think we [as young footballers] realise how much we take for granted, even just something like having Christmas dinner, so it’s been really nice to come down and help out.”
The Whitechapel will have helped over 2,800 people throughout 2016 and will look after over 80 service users for Christmas Day providing lunch for all in attendance. They will also give away as many gifts as can be donated including scarves, hats, gloves and selection boxes.
Ruth McCaughley, Fundraising Manager at The Whitechapel Centre, spoke about the young team’s initiative to help out this Christmas and what it means for the people she works with every day. She said: “The fact that such a young group of people have come together and taken time out of their busy schedules to put on this dinner and meet some of our service users is just brilliant, everyone here has loved it and they are all a credit to the Club.
“Making sure that we can put on a full Christmas lunch is really important to us because it’s such a special time of the year. We really appreciate any help in being able to make that happen so a massive thank you to David and his team.”
The centre run a ‘No Second Night Out’ campaign that works to try and make sure that those who are new to homelessness don’t spend a second night out on the streets and throughout 2016 they helped 1,321 people access the right accommodation, ending their homelessness. If you would like to learn more about the work that they do, make a donation or volunteer your time please visit www.whitechapelcentre.co.uk.