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In this short clip Chris, a Street Soccer Academy ambassador, describes what his life was like before engaging with our programme in central Manchester.

Chris admits that his start in life was difficult and probably best described as chaotic.

“Our home was broken into nine times in the space of two years and my Mum and Dad were hardly ever around” explains Chris.

In an attempt to get away from the ‘troubled’ life he was living Chris left his family home in the centre of Manchester at the age of sixteen. With no fixed income he spent six years homeless, living in temporary hostels, friends homes and for two years on the street. Describing his life around this time Chris says, “I was scared, emotionally down, depressed and I felt alone. I had no one to turn to and did now know that there was support out there. I wanted to take my own life, I wanted to hide, I wanted to run. Basically, I would do anything to get away from the life I was living”

One day, following a conversation about their mutual interest in football, a worker at the city centre drop-in centre Chris would often frequent suggested a referral into the Street Soccer Academy centre in Central Manchester. Chris immediately jumped at the chance as he was keen to play some football, something he hadn’t done since his younger days and it might give him a chance to improve his fitness levels, which he felt were not great because of the lifestyle he had been living. Within a matter of a few short weeks Chris was loving his time at SSA Central Manchester, but what he had not realised initially was the help and support he would receive from the charity’s staff and volunteers would have a profound effect on his life. Surrounded by the SSA team and a group of peers from similar types of backgrounds Chris explains that he felt a sense of belonging unlike he had experienced before and describes the people he was involved with at the weekly sessions as ‘family’. After receiving help and support in securing a permanent tenancy for his own flat, Chris made progress through the Street Soccer Academy Education & Personal Development Programme and ongoing support for some additional needs around family relationship breakdown and substance misuse.

Chris explains, “People had tried to help me before to sort certain things out in my life, but I never wanted to listen. This time it was different, the help and advice was coming from ‘family’ and I felt like I owed it to them to listen. I felt like I needed to respect them and make an effort to sort myself out”

After a number of years on the Street Soccer Academy Programme, Chris achieved the status of Street Soccer Academy Ambassador, having completed all levels of the programme and exiting into full-time paid employment in the hospitality industry. Chris now acts as a motivator for current Street Soccer Academy beneficiaries , speaking to them about his experiences and the opportunities, he took full advantage of, that exist as a Street Soccer Academy beneficiary.


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