Manchester United legend Lou Macari has expressed his fears over the dangers the coming winter might bring for the UK’s shelterless.
In his time, Macari was a midfielder who made 401 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring 97 goals.
Macari played for the Red Devils from 1974 to 1983, featuring alongside the likes of Sir Bobby Charlton and George Best.
Now 74, the United legend spends much of his time running the Macari Centre, a homeless charity in Stoke-on-Trent.
When asked why he does it, as The Times reports, his answer is gratitude. In his words:
“People think I got into the homelessness because I lost my son [Jonathan] through suicide [in 1999]. It’s nothing to do with that. I just began to think about what I’d achieved in football, how lucky I have been, that football was that good to me and what can I do to put something back to help other people. The obvious came up, which is homeless people.”
“The weather’s getting cold. There are people waking up in the cold, in a doorway, [they] start off their day with no job, no prospect of getting one, no breakfast, certainly no lunch, freezing [and] no evening meal.”
At the moment, the charity houses 27 people but at one time it housed up to 50, sleeping in pods in a repurposed warehouse.
Unfortunately, due to the prevalence of drug abuse in the area, Macari was forced into relocating the charity’s facility, which is now located in xxx.
“We had to move [buildings] because of the drugs. I was slowly watching them deteriorate, [when they] get to the stage of looking not far away from dying, with too many drugs too easily accessible for them.
The journey has not always been smooth.
“I started eight years ago. It’s got five times’ worse. You have all sorts of challenges. We had a woman burn down one of our pods, she came back two days later after I’d asked her to leave and tried to set my car on fire,” he said.
“I’ve had bicycles thrown at me. You’ve got to realise that there’s substances in their body and they’re talking sh–, and it’s not them, it’s a different person, but the drugs have got worse.”