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Dylan Bannon, from Anfield, found himself sleeping rough just as the first national lockdown hit in 2020, plunging him further into his cocaine addiction and struggling to find a way out.
Having spent months moving between B&Bs during lockdown, he was put in touch with Everton in the Community’s ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ programme in April 2020.
The initiative aims to support young people who are homeless or who are on the verge of homelessness, through its residential house and extensive outreach projects across the region.
The charity supported Dylan to take his first steps on the road to recovery with weekly check-ins over the phone and food vouchers, before eventually referring him to a drug rehabilitation centre.
Now, more than one year clean, he is determined to help others facing a similar experience and is championing the Goodison Sleepout to raise awareness of the charity’s work.
The event, which is now in its fifth year, takes place on Friday 19 November with all funds going to Home Is Where The Heart Is.
Former players Michael Branch and Ian Snodin will be joining attendees to gain a sense of how it feels to sleep rough as they spend the night camped out in the stands, facing a cold November night.
“I have no doubt that Everton in the Community saved my life – without it, I don’t know where I would be.
“I started taking drugs socially during my early teens but, when I hit 17 or 18, it got out of hand. At the height of my addiction, I was using around £200 worth of cocaine every day – I was at rock bottom and needed help.
“At first, I was reluctant to take the help on board but I soon realised that the support I was getting was exactly what I needed. The staff genuinely care and make you feel part of a family which, for many people in my position, is crucial to recovery.
“I’m living proof that the ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ programme works. It’s so important that the charity continues to reach out to young people who need their help as it changes – and saves – lives.”
Dylan is now working towards launching a community business that helps people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, offering an eight-week course to support them in staying clean.
It is hoped that Friday’s event will encourage more support for the Home Is Where The Heart Is project’s vital work.
Kicking off at 7pm, it will include a special Q&A with Everton faces, an Everton-themed quiz and soup and sandwiches before lights out. A BBQ breakfast will be served at 6.30am.
“The Goodison Sleepout has always been a real humble occasion in the past, and I’ve no doubt that our loyal supporters will once again be out in numbers for another heart-warming night under the stars at The Grand Old Lady.
“The event plays even more significance taking into consideration the last 18 months, and whilst we’ve been unable to host these staple events in the Everton in the Community calendar, the support for our wonderful charity hasn’t hindered throughout that time.”
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