1643. Lou Macari
Lou Macari, from Stoke-on-Trent, is a former Celtic and Manchester United footballer who set up his own foundation to provide emergency accommodation for hundreds of homeless people in his home-town of Stoke.
Lou, who formerly managed Stoke City FC, has lived in the city for over 20 years, and set up the foundation in 2016 after seeing a news report revealing the extent of homelessness in cities across Britain, including Stoke. The Foundation manages its own centre, providing accommodation as well as access to skills training, employment advice and non-judgemental support for those with drug and alcohol addiction. With the outbreak of Coronavirus and lockdown restrictions, which called for the closure of dormitory-style accommodation, Lou converted a warehouse with individual sleeping pods to continue providing shelter in a Covid-secure way. Each pod is fitted with new beds, heaters, televisions and a numbered front door, giving residents a proof of address to help them with searching for work.
In a personal letter to Lou, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I want to thank you for all that you have done for those in need through ‘The Macari Foundation’. For years, you have provided a safe and dignified home for the homeless and helped countless people with mental health support and career guidance.
“I was particularly inspired to learn of the innovation of your ‘pods’ during lockdown, making sure that the most vulnerable were looked after in a COVID secure way. You are a true Point of Light in your adopted home of Stoke-on-Trent.”
Pictured below: the individual pods created by Lou and the Macari Foundation (photo credit: Tom Reece)