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#BringaTin: How you can help Sunderland AFC bring Christmas to the homeless on Wearside & beyond

Sunderland AFC’s new “Bring a Tin” campaign aims to aid local homeless charities this festive season, and they need all of our help. Here’s how to do it.

James Nickels

Bring A Tin Collection Points @ Tomorrow’s Game

- Outside the Family Zone turnstiles

- Black Cats House reception

- The Stadium of Light store

The simplest of mistakes can lead to poverty.

It can be something as simple as a few missed payments and a default, or it can be caused by terrible circumstance, like bereavement, or any number of other unforeseen and life-changing events. We aren't always present to deal with our problems head-on. It can take a human mind months or years to adjust to trauma, seen or unseen. Some people never adjust. A sad fact of life; but one that I believe we, together, can change.

By this point you may be asking yourself: “What is this man on about, and how does it relate to football? This is, after all, a football blog is it not? Rabble! Rabble rabble rabble!” Well, bear with me.

My concern, as I sit in the warmth of my home, at the computer that I own, with the outlet that I have courtesy of the supreme gents at Roker Report, is that it's too easy to sit comfortably in the warmth and feel aloof. It's easy to forget what happens to those out in the cold, and that's a dangerous precedent to set. Not just for ourselves but for those that follow us.

Something that first struck a chord with me when it comes to football was how I was introduced to it; as with many fans, my father first instilled the idea in my head that football is a great thing and that I should love it.

As I grew, my love of the game grew and I began to take deeper observations from it. I've written some random bits before touching on my humble opinion of the human psychology of football and the sense of community therein. That football – and sport in general – is about a coming-together of people and that fact (that people find a place in sport to revel in and celebrate, and focus on one communal thing) is beautiful.

By its very nature it brings us together; football. But today and with this topic in mind, I could never be more serious.

With that in mind I'd ask you to consider the work currently being done by clubs like Sunderland AFC on these cold nights.

The Sunderland AFC first team, Academy players and club staff will support two local charities this Christmas through their ‘Bring a Tin’ campaign.

Created by Sunderland AFC, ‘Bring a Tin’ will see the club collect and donate non-perishable goods to local charities, St Mary’s Church and Centre Point Sunderland, to help the homeless and those in need this Christmas.

The Wearsiders are asking fans to support the campaign and from Monday 11th until Wednesday 20th December special ‘Bring a Tin’ wheelie bins, which have been donated by O’Brien’s Waste Recycling Solutions, will be available in the SAFC Ticket Office for people to deposit tinned food and other non-perishables into. The ‘Bring a Tin’ bins will also be located at various points around the Stadium of Light when the Wearsiders take on Fulham in the Sky Bet Championship on 16th December.

Some of us can be guilty of leading lives in a society that teaches us that if you want a roof over your head, if you want shelter from the cold and you want sustenance from the very earth you were born on, that you can either work for it or die. Dark times indeed. But we're the change that needs to come – it isn't down to those that follow us to fix these problems, and we can't expect those that caused them to fix them either.

When my father met my mother they were both out on the street homeless. My mother struggled with mental health issues and had been forced from her family home at a young age. My father was equally destitute of sound mind and assets; like my mother, another combatant in the never-ending war waged in the lonely mind of the mentally ill. Both had been chewed up and spat out by a society and a system that neither understood them, nor cared to.

In the years that followed I would come to struggle with my own mental well-being. I would find myself in situations that I had inevitably and unwittingly caused, and many others that I had not, as a result of the mistakes made by others. It's fair to say I did find the bottom of the bottle and I have done things no sane person would do, and I've come close to losing absolute everything – even my life. All because of a culmination of small and seemingly-insignificant events throughout the course of not just my life, but my parents lives and theirs before them. Without support and protection when you're at your lowest, you expire.

Our duty as people is essentially to make sure people don't expire.

In short, that's one of the many reason's for supporting Sunderland’s ‘Bring a Tin’ initiative this Christmas.

Though my own memoirs aren't what I'm trying to put on record here, it's a subject close to my heart: the fact that being homeless, being without, being needy, being vulnerable, are not simply personal problems.

They aren't personality traits or flaws, and they aren't things for which only the sufferer is wholly accountable. We all as a society and a community and a species are accountable for the health and well-being of our fellows. We are all products of those that came before us. So much suffering comes from a lack of understanding of that fact: by not understanding or accepting that we aren't all masters of our own destiny.

Life comes at you hard and fast, and a lot of the time many of us just aren't fast enough or strong enough or prepared enough to defend ourselves from it.

By making efforts to help those around us that can't deal with the way life overwhelms them, we support their life, and by doing so we support life itself.

Even a seemingly innocuous thing like a few tins of baked beans or chicken soup might seem like nothing but for some people it really is everything. That's a sad fact of life that we have to deal with and our intent to deal with it can start by getting down to the Stadium of Light with a few bits you wouldn't miss.

Go out and spend a fiver and it'll make the world of difference to someone - that can't be stressed enough.

The beautiful thing about this concept is that this isn't big business charity, this is just common sense. There are dozens of organisations in your local area and nationwide in fact that provide vital services to people with no one else to help them; altruistic people that provide support for the vulnerable and the weak. I'd encourage you to chase up the websites at the bottom of this page and see if you can lend a hand.

Please check out NUFC Food Bank, an organisation set-up between Newcastle United FC and the Newcastle West End Food Bank. We may be rivals on the pitch, but we’re fans united against homelessness off it.

If you’d like to go the extra step in helping to ensure that the homeless have a Merry Christmas this year, here are a few organisations that would love your support:

Help the Homeless
Homeless Link
Youth Homeless North East
Emmaus North East

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