As the UK braces itself for falling temperatures in the coming weeks, Crystal Palace is doing something to warm the heart. The Premier League club has announced that it will be opening its doors to up to 10 rough sleepers, who will be referred to them by the local authority.
The club will be providing a warm sleeping area by converting one of their lounges. As well as providing a hot evening meal, breakfast and washroom facilities. The team will be offering this facility at Selhurst Park stadium on all evenings where the temperature is forecast to drop below freezing temperatures.
The club initially made the facilities available last Thursday, 17th January and provided accommodation to 8 people.
Crystal Palace chief executive Phil Alexander said in a statement released earlier in the week:
“We are delighted to be collaborating with Croydon Council and their partner agencies to ensure that rough sleepers can find an emergency shelter in the event of severe winter weather. The club wants to be a force for good in the community and we are happy to do our bit to help those most in need.”
These facilities are only available when a home game is not due to be played, at which time Croydon Council has advised it will refer those in need to alternative shelters in the area.
Councillor Alison Butler, who acts as deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services said in the statement released with the club:
“Freezing temperatures are a particular safety risk for rough sleepers and this is a wonderful gesture by Crystal Palace for helping us reduce that risk. I do hope that the actions and support of our local Premier League football club will encourage more businesses in Croydon to get in touch and do what they can to help us address homelessness. Crystal Palace are setting a standard for other clubs to follow.”
At a time when the whole country, sometimes the whole world, feels divided, it’s nice to see that there’s still some humanity out there. The people at Crystal Palace, from the executives to the staff volunteering to give up their own time to provide this fantastic service, deserve the admiration of us all. Especially their fellow football clubs.
With football being at the heart of our country, and the teams so integral to the communities they’re in, it seems only right that it can act as a force to bring us together. We’re all fans who love the game. Love our teams. Love the rivalries. Yet, at the heart of it, we’re all just people.
Seeing a team like Crystal Palace step up to the plate and lead on this front is fantastic. They’re not the biggest financially, or by supporter base, but they are way out in front when it comes to doing right by their local area.
Personally, I say it’s high time every single sports team to open their hearts, and their doors wherever possible. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s not like the richer clubs; here’s to looking at you City, can’t afford it.
You can read the full statement released by Croydon Council and Crystal Palace here.