Former Everton player calls on supporters to take part in the Goodison Park Sleepout event
10 months ago
Ex-Everton player Graham Stuart is calling on supporters to spend a night under the stars at Goodison Park as part of Everton in the Community’s Sleepout event.
Taking place on Friday 18 November, the annual Goodison Sleepout helps raise vital funds for the Everton charity’s Home Is Where The Heart Is programme, which is dedicated to helping those who are homeless or who are on the verge of being homeless.
Each year, hundreds of people gather in the much-loved stadium to sleep outdoors to get an understanding of homeless people’s plight and how tough it is to stay warm and safe.
This year will be especially poignant as it will mark the penultimate event at Goodison before Everton FC relocates to its new home at Bramley Moore Dock, giving fans one of the final opportunities to soak up the stadium overnight.
And former midfielder Graham, who will be attending on the night to meet fans as charity ambassador, is encouraging people to sign up and help raise awareness.
He said: “Sleeping rough and battling the cold and rain is something that is sadly the norm for homeless people right across the country – but the work that Everton in the Community’s Home Is Where The Heart Is does is incredible and helps those in need during their darkest hours.
“I’m confident that our Everton supporters will get behind the event like they always do and join us for what promises to be a really special night.”
Joining Graham at the event will be former drug user Dylan Bannon, who found himself homeless and addicted to cocaine just two years ago.
Lifelong Everton fan Dylan was able to make his first steps to recovery after being introduced to Everton in the Community, accessing food vouchers and later being referred to a drug rehabilitation centre.
He was supported by the outreach team at Home Is Where The Heart Is to turn his life around and is now passionate about helping the project to continue its vital work.
Dylan, 24, who is now expecting his first child early next year, said: “Everton in the Community saved my life – I have absolutely no doubt about that.
“I spiralled into a cocaine addiction when I was 17, using around £200 worth every day at my worst. I knew I needed help but didn’t know how or where to get it.
“After being put in touch with Home Is Where The Heart Is, my life changed for the better and I realised that their support was exactly what I needed. The staff there treat you like family and genuinely care about you which, for others in my position, is vital for recovery.”
Home Is Where The Heart Is, which is one of more than 50 programmes run by Everton in the community each year, supports young people through its residential house and extensive outreach projects across the region.
Sue Gregory, CEO at Everton in the Community, said:
“The Goodison Sleepout is always an incredibly special night that brings together supporters, their families and non-supporters for one cause.
“It’s certainly not easy staying out in the cold overnight, but the community atmosphere is amazing and it’s truly heartwarming to see so many people unite to make a difference.
“This will be one of the last opportunities to stay out overnight at The Grand Old Lady, so it’s the perfect chance to create some lovely memories and be part of history.”