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The Supporters Club announces nationwide collaboration with homeless FA

Press release   •   Mar 11, 2015 14:27 GMT

More homeless young people to benefit from

nationwide training programme supported by top football clubs

BT Sport’s The Supporters Club is launching a partnership with the Homeless FA focusing on their Team England and Training Centre programme.

This important activity uses football to inspire homeless people to positively change their lives. Such support builds on The Supporters Club’s commitment to using football for good including a tie-up with the Premier League to fund programmes delivered by the likes of Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and Manchester City’s City in the Community.

The announcement, which will see The Supporters Club make a substantial grant to the programme, was unveiled this afternoon at a special activity session at the Manchester City Football Academy, with current and former City goalkeepers – and BT Sport ambassadors – Joe Hart and David James. They were joined by three Homeless FA representatives; head of the homeless, FA Gareth Parker, along with James Buckley and James Shaw, who have both come through the Homeless FA’s programmes in the North West, and will be working as coaches and mentors on this year’s Manchester City Training Centre programme. During the session, Joe Hart and David James took the two James’s through a range of goalkeeping drills and shared their expert advice on what it takes to succeed.

The grant from The Supporters Club will be used to rollout the programme across all nine regions of the UK, involving twelve professional football clubs, including Manchester City, Arsenal, Everton and Aston Villa. At each club a six-week training programme is run by professional coaches and consists of practical and workshop based sessions. In total it will benefit more than 400 people who are or have been homeless. Forty eight participants who show a positive attitude, team work and outstanding commitment during the programme will then be selected to be part of Team England and take part in an inspiring six-month personal development programme, with the opportunity to compete in several international events, including the Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam later this year.

James Buckley is just one of many inspiring stories from the programme, having played in the 2011 Homeless World Cup in Paris, he went on to be assistant coach for Team England at the Homeless World Cup in Mexico City the following year, before making the jump to head coach at the tournament in Poznan in 2013. He is now the Homeless FA’s executive head coach. His responsibilities include co-writing the Homeless FA’s new street football and life skills coaching model and the mentoring of all coaches on the Homeless FA’s Player Progression programme.

One such coach is James Shaw, who applied for the scheme when living in supported accommodation at Crewe YMCA. He participated in the 2014 Manchester United Training Centre, before being selected as goalkeeper for the Team England squad that competed at the Homeless World Cup in Chile last October. Thanks to his incredible development during this time he was accepted onto the Player Progression Programme and will be the male coach at the City in the Community Training Centre starting in April.

Backed by the Football Association, the Training Centre and Team England programme is now in its fifthyear, with 100 per cent of participants on the programme in 2014 reporting an increase in their confidence levels, 97 per cent improving their fitness and general wellbeing, and 92 per cent of those who were regularly using substances beforehand decreasing their intake or stopping completely.

The Supporters Club aims to build a better world through sport by changing the lives of disadvantaged young people. Funds are raised thanks to BT Sport customers choosing to add an additional £1, £3 or £5 to their monthly BT Sport bill as a donation. The Supporters Club has raised over £3.5 million from BT Sport customers and BT. So far The Supporters Club has partnered with Comic Relief to fund 27 sport-inspired community projects – 17 in the UK and 10 overseas, with over 94,000 people now giving monthly donations.

Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: “The work of the Homeless FA’s Training Centre programme is a vibrant example of how the sport can provide a rich pathway for those experiencing challenges in their lives. The programme is proven to increase confidence and physical fitness with a range of pathways that many go on to take – including education, training, employment and perhaps even joining Team England. Today’s news typifies the significant good that BT Sport and our viewers are achieving together through the Supporters Club.”

Gareth Parker, head of the Homeless FA, said: “Our Training Centre and Team England programmes give socially excluded adults the empowering opportunity to develop their skills and abilities whilst improving their health and gaining self-respect and confidence.The football is important, but it’s what happens off the pitch that matters most. So far, more than half of the men and women who have completed Homeless FA programmes go on to achieve more qualifications, with two thirds improving their housing situation, and the same amount gaining employment. Thanks to the support of The Supporters Club we will be able to give even more people the confidence and tools to transform their lives.”

Enquiries about this news release should be made to the BT Group Newsroom on its 24-hour number: 020 7356 5369. From outside the UK dial + 44 20 7356 5369.

For more information about the Homeless FA, please contact Media & PR Officer Deri Jones on 0207 423 6842 or at d.jones@centrepoint.org

All news releases can be accessed at our web site: http://www.btplc.com/News

Notes to editors

About BT

BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of five lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Business, BT Consumer, BT Wholesale and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2014, BT Group’s reported revenue was £18,287mwith reported profit before taxation of £2,312m. British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, visit btplc.com.

About The Supporters Club

The Supporters Club aims to build a better world by bringing people together through sport. Donations from BT and our customers are invested into projects selected in partnership with Comic Relief. When customers sign up to BT Sport, they are able to make a recurring £1, £3 or £5 monthly subscription to The Supporters Club to help support these and other similar projects.

About the Homeless Football Association

The Homeless FA is England’s national homeless football association, the only one of its kind in the UK. It supports all programmes that use football as a means of improving the lives of people experiencing homelessness in England. The Homeless FA uses football to give everyone experiencing homelessness in England the opportunity to positively transform his or her life. The Homeless FA selects and manages Homeless Team England and is the designated national partner of the Homeless World Cup. Central to the work of the Homeless FA is the promotion of positive self-perception of their players, whilst challenging and changing negative public perceptions of people experiencing homelessness. The Homeless FA is part ofCentrepoint, the leading youth homelessness charity.

For more information visit: www.homelessfa.org