Sale Sharks and England winger Marland Yarde delivered a huge dose of Christmas cheer to a Manchester youth homeless charity when he dropped off a van load of coats, warm clothes, toiletries and other essential items – all donated by teammates and club staff.
Marland was joined by teammate Tumy Onasanya, Sale Sharks women’s teams stars Georgie Perris-Redding and Vicky Irwin – and the club’s co-owner Michelle Orange – as he personally delivered a van full of the vital items to the Centrepoint charity, based in central Manchester.
And the delivery signaled the start of the club’s Christmas campaign which will be aimed at supporting a city-wide drive to combat homelessness amongst young people by asking players and fans alike to donate to the charity.
The new relationship between Sale Sharks and Centrepoint came about after Marland met a homeless man at a cashpoint in Manchester City Centre and took the time to speak to him about his story.
Inspired by how he came to be living on the streets and the support he had received from Centrepoint, Marland decided he wanted to do something to support Manchester’s homeless community this Christmas and contacted the charity himself.
The charity was only too happy to join forces with Sharks Community Trust to make something happen.
All that was left for Marland to do was rally his Sale Sharks teammates and club staff to donate coats, scarves, hats and other warm clothes – and then take time out of training to hand-deliver the haul.
Marland said: “A young lad approached me at a cash machine to ask for money. I wanted to help so I offered to buy him some food and we got chatting. It turned out he had been on the streets for four or five months and he said that Centrepoint had really been helping him.
“It was a lightbulb moment for me and I knew that I wanted to use my platform to try and help. We’ve all been guilty in the past of turning a blind eye to people when they ask for money but I know people are going through tough times at the moment and this is our small way to help improve people’s lives.
“I sat all the players down and told them about my meeting with the lad at the cashpoint and we talked about what we could do to help. The whole team alongside the Sharks Women’s team and the Community Trust has completely bought into it. Everyone at the club has been so supportive and I’m so proud of what we’ve done.
“But for me this is just the start. It’s a relationship I want to build because homelessness is not going away. We all need to help.
“Centrepoint does fantastic work with Manchester’s homeless young people and I’m so proud to be able to support them and the work they do this Christmas.
The delivery was gratefully received by Centrepoint’s regional fundraising manager Hannah Winter who has been working with the Community Trust to arrange the drop off.
She said: “First of all, a massive thank you to Marland for getting in touch, and to the Sharks players and staff for their generous donations.
“Christmas is a particularly difficult time, but these clothes and all of the other fantastic items are going to make a huge difference to so many of the people we work with right across the city.
“It’s been a challenging few months, with the number of young people asking Centrepoint for help in Manchester increasing, so it’s great to be supported by the community.
“Our work is not just about finding accommodation for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, we also endeavor to offer wraparound support – such as support to access finances, help with applications, rent deposits and mental health support.”
Sale Sharks co-owner Michelle Orange joined Marland at the drop off. And she said how proud she was of his work.
She said: “We want all of our players to get involved with our work in the community, but this really goes one step further. This is all Marland’s work and what he has achieved is fantastic.
“We want to support him as a club so we’re going to be asking all of our players, staff and supporters to donate to Centrepoint.
“This year, more than ever, it is important that we do all we can to protect the most vulnerable in our society, and ensure as many young people as possible have a safe place to sleep at night.
“Centrepoint in Manchester is dedicated to achieving this and for this reason as a club we will do everything we possibly can to increase the profile of this charity.”
Supporters can donate to Sharks’ Christmas fund here