Macari steps up fight against homelessness

Tuesday 12 May 2020 15:59

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced much of the United Kingdom to a grinding halt, but former United hero Lou Macari is not giving an inch in his crusade against homelessness.

The 1977 FA Cup winner is the driving force behind the Macari Centre, a shelter for rough sleepers which is situated in Hanley near Stoke-on-Trent.
And despite the lockdown, the centre is continuing a scheduled move to bigger premises, as the pandemic's knock-on effects threaten to cause even more damage to the economy and society's most vulnerable.
“We've got a new home which is a massive warehouse, the size of a football pitch almost,” Macari told MUTV's Group Chat. “It's only about 500 or 600 yards from where we are at the moment, so we're actually carrying the furniture through the streets of Stoke and into the warehouse. Lots of horns are being tooted at the moment when I'm carrying a bed or a mattress along!
“It's been speeded up by that situation that we're in at this moment. We've got 48 here all living very close to one another, so we've had to speed it up and swing into action a lot sooner than we expected.”
Macari joins MUTV Group Chat Video

Macari joins MUTV Group Chat

Lou Macari signed in to our daily call to give an update on his homeless shelter and to discuss Project Restart…

With help from generous organisations such as the League Managers Association [LMA] and food firms like Sainsbury's and Greggs, the centre aims to offer a fresh start in life to the people who need shelter.
“The LMA have donated 48 televisions, so everyone's got an LG television for themselves,” explains Lou. “We bought 40 pods – big glamping things or whatever you call it! It's more or less a little house of their own, that's probably the best way to describe it. For the 48 people we've got, it's probably the first time in their lives that they've had something of their own. 
“They've come to the Macari [Centre] from a background of probably always being on the streets and never really having anything. So for once now they've got their own little place to look after to keep nice and tidy, to keep clean. We hope to improve and try to keep improving the lives that they're leading. I do think the individual buildings [they've got] gives them a good start. It's that independence that they need.
“They're a good bunch who need help, and anybody's help – whether it's mine or it's the council, whether it's the people providing food.”
Macari was a pocket dynamo in United's midfield during the mid-to-late 70s, and made 401 appearances for the club before departing in 1984.
The Scot then progressed into management, and became a hero in the Potteries during the early 90s, when he led Stoke City from the lower reaches of the third tier to promotion, prior to accepting the manager's job at his boyhood club Celtic.
The 70-year-old's subsequent community work within Staffordshire has only further endeared him to the residents of Stoke and its nearby communities – though he hasn't managed to convert many of the Macari Centre's residents to the United faith.
"Their highlight of the week is when I come back from Old Trafford after a match and I bring them some pies!" joked Macari. "They love the Man United pies. But it's all they like about Man United, because most of them are Stoke supporters!"
Regardless of who those in need might support, Lou is determined to ensure there is support for people during the coming months, with COVID-19 causing problems for many people up and down the country.
"I'm in doubt whatsoever that after this virus clears up, there's going to be lots of people out of work, there's going to be lots of people needing help for reasons, and there'll be probably more homeless people than there's ever been," he laments.

"There's redundancies, there's going to be companies going bust, and unfortunately that's all still to come."
You can find more information about the Macari Centre at the Macari Foundation website. To support the centre, visit the following page.