Everton Under-23s manager David Unsworth and his full squad joined more than 150 supporters in braving the elements at the Goodison Sleepout on Friday night as they slept out in the stadium to raise vital funds to help combat homelessness in Liverpool.
Now in its third year, the annual Goodison Sleepout aims to raise awareness of homelessness across the city, with this year’s fundraiser already raising close to £20,000 for Everton in the Community, which will be channelled towards the sustainability of the charity’s ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ campaign that supports young people on the cusp of homelessness.
Setting up camp for the night in the Sir Philip Carter Park Stand, Unsworth, along with his entire backroom team and a full compliment of players, arrived at Goodison Park armed with sleeping bags and warm clothing to help see them through the cold November night.
The stadium provided a different function to what fans are normally used to on a matchday with participants using the facilities as a home for the evening.
Supporters opted for a variety of different sleeping options for the night; whether that be huddled at the back of the stand, in between the rows of seats, on top of the seats themselves or the relative shelter of the concourse - all in an attempt to stay warm as temperatures dropped to testing conditions.
On arrival, those taking part were welcomed by the charity’s Fundraising team who were on hand to sign people in and offer soup, sandwiches and hot drinks ahead of a long and gruelling night in the cold. Some fans took books, some brought guitars for an impromptu singalong, whilst others just chose to reflect quietly on the night ahead from their positions looking out across the famous Goodison turf.
Speaking after a cold night in the stands, Unsworth said: “It’s really humbling for me and my Under-23s to have completed a third Sleepout at Goodison for such an important cause alongside fellow Evertonians.
“All the money raised from tonight will go towards the sustainability of our ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ project and help us support even more people in need.
"It made getting through the cold that much more bearable, knowing nights like that make a big difference to those less fortunate.”
EitC’s ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ campaign was awarded ‘Best Community Initiative’ at the Northwest Football Awards this week in recognition for its ground-breaking and innovative work. The first two Goodison Sleepout events raised over £60,000 for ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ and has seen since the charity purchase and operate a house close to Goodison Park that offers young people on the cusp of homelessness a place to stay in Liverpool.