Wycombe Wanderers defender Michael Harriman and his wife Amy have pledged their support to Wycombe Homeless Connection, joining the charity as ambassadors with a view to helping raise funds and awareness for the organisation, which helped more than 500 homeless people in 2017.
Michael and Amy made a special visit to a night shelter in High Wycombe on Saturday evening, spending time with guests, sharing a meal and getting to know more about the conditions faced by those who have no fixed accommodation and turned to the charity for help.
“It’s something we feel very strongly about,” said Michael. “Around Christmas and over the winter you think more about the privileges that you’ve got in life, and we were lucky enough to be able to go to the night shelter to meet some fantastic people.
“It was a real eye-opener for us; we expected to find people with the weight of the world on their shoulders, but it was completely different. They were so upbeat about life and happy with what they have, and that really puts into perspective the small things that we take for granted. In most cases it’s not their fault that they find themselves in this position; it’s just the way the world goes sometimes.
“It’s made both Amy and me want to get more involved to see what we can do. I’m lucky to do what I do and I know we have an opportunity to help raise awareness and encourage people to help fund more shelters.”
The charity is in its 11th year, and last year provided 850 bed-nights in the winter night shelter, as well as providing more than 2,500 one-to-one support meetings and playing a key role in helping people find or keep accommodation in over 80 instances.
Heather Morley, communications and fundraising volunteer, explained: “The people we help are often young people who don’t have anywhere else to turn, and don’t have anyone to help them pick up the pieces when things in life don’t work out how they planned. Maybe they’ve lost a job, come out of a relationship, or come to the end of a shorthold tenancy on their property and struggle to find another home. Most people in life might experience at least one of those situations, and for some people, they fall into homelessness as a result.
“Having Michael and Amy on board will help us engage with more young people who might share similar interests. Guests at the shelter are given food, a bed and facilities to wash, but the most important thing is that they’re treated with human respect. When Michael and Amy came to sit with them, talk to them, share the same food and play board games, that’s incredibly powerful and helpful for them.
“We look for support in a number of ways, whether that’s donations of cash or clothing and other supplies, or volunteers, of which we have around 400 in a number of different roles but are always looking for more.
“On behalf of everyone at the Wycombe Homeless Connection, I’d like to say a massive thank you to Michael and Amy. They are fantastic individuals for coming to us and offering their help. I think it’s an outstanding thing to do and hopefully there are more people like them who want to come forward and support us.”
Find out more about Wycombe Homeless Connection and how you can help by visiting www.wyhoc.org.uk.
Photo: Heather Morley, communications and fundraising volunteer, with Michael Harriman