Three regular attendees of the PNE Forces programme’s social and exercise sessions will be harnessing their own personal experiences as they take part in the Big PNE Sleep Out at Deepdale next month.
Peter Judson, Chris Haddow and Steven Ford have proved both frequent and enthusiastic in the way of their involvement in the Forces programme, and given their military backgrounds and with Chris and Steve having had their own battle with homelessness, the trio felt that taking part in the Sleep Out would provide the perfect opportunity to give something back.
Organised by the Trust itself, along with Biffa, Blog Preston, Shout Network and the Foxton Centre, the Sleep Out is aiming to raise £ 50,000 for the Foxton Centre to allow the charity to buy and renovate a property for the use of homeless people in Preston, an initiative which has garnered plenty of admiration from the Forces participants.
Peter said: “I saw that part of it [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 ex-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.
Chris explained that he believes there is a duty from the public to support those battling the issue of homelessness.
Chris added: “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.”
Steven, another participant from the Forces programme, is also taking part in the Sleep Out.
Along with Peter and Chris, Steven has been doing his utmost to promote both his and friends’ fundraising efforts, through which he even discovered that there were members of his family also getting involved – which he had remained 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 this 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 persuaded onto it, but 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 the hardship just to give back.”
The PNE Forces programme includes 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, Preston, from 8pm until 9pm.
The Forces team are planning to hold a fundraising night at Ribble Lodge on Saturday 9th November, less than a week before the Sleep Out itself, to boost their charitable efforts, with a series of a raffles, auctions and games played to maximise the amount of money they can donate to the Foxton Centre’s appeal.
If you wish to join the boys in helping to raise money for the Foxton Centre – either by taking part in the Sleep Out itself or donating to the cause – complete this form and send to firstname.lastname@example.org to register, or click here here to make a donation.
Already signed up for the Sleep Out? Remember to share your stories and fundraising pages on social media using #pnesleepout!