Rough sleepers are being helped to stay warm this winter thanks to the efforts of Everton fans, reports the Liverpool Echo.
The club’s LGBT+ supporters group, Rainbow Toffees, set out to help the homeless by providing them with beanies over the winter months. The group, which aims to help tackle homophobia in football, took on the project as the impact of the pandemic and the colder weather takes its toll on people sleeping rough. The beanies, which feature a rainbow Everton logo, were given to the group by former professional footballer Anwar Uddin to help them raise awareness of their cause.
The group is run by Mike Homfray and social media coordinator and promoter, Paul Hession, who decided that the beanies were better off donated to homeless people who need all the extra help they can get during these challenging times. Paul said: “They gave me loads of beanies to promote us, and I thought do you know what, to kill two birds with one stone, I should go out and give the hats to the homeless because it’s absolutely freezing.”
Paul said that it was a spur of the moment decision, and he handed the beanies out alongside long-time friend David Soul, previous owner of PINK, who drove him around Liverpool and would jump out to give the hats out whenever he saw someone who was vulnerable. The 43-year-old handed the beanies out over the course of a couple of weeks. He said that although it was only a small act of kindness, rough sleepers had been very happy to have had someone acknowledge them.
Personal experiences, and his own experience of having previously worked for a hostel, inspired Paul to pursue helping the homeless. He said: “We’re all human at the end of the day.”
Rainbow Toffees has had help from famous faces including Everton legends Peter Reid, Neville Southhall (their patron) and Kevin Ratcliffe, as well as charity fundraiser and fan Speedo Mick. Paul said “I was showing the homeless these photos (of the stars wearing the hats), and a lot of them were really up for getting a selfie because we’re associated with these well-known people.” He said the charity needs as much exposure as they can get to continue doing their work. He said: “A lot of people don’t associate being gay and liking football, which is ridiculous really because I grew up as a kid loving football all my life, so again it’s about making people aware that we’re here as well.”
You can purchase the beanies, alongside other merchandise, from News from Nowhere on Bold Street and all proceedings will go towards funding for LGBT awareness events. You can also send donations by getting in contact with the organisation through their social media.