By Artemis Denton, Sports Digital Editor
To mark the start of the festive season, football rivals Bristol City and Bristol Rovers kicked off this month with an unlikely union. In support of The BillyChip Foundation and the local Bristol homeless community, City captain Dan Bently and Rovers captain Alfie Kilgour came together to raise awareness about homelessness in Bristol.
The BillyChip Foundation is a charity which has helped to break the stigma around giving money directly to the homeless. Established in 2018, the platform lets people buy tokens from participating food and drink establishments which can then be gifted to rough sleepers - an alternative to cash.
These chips can then be redeemed as and when the recipient chooses. Despite being a young charity, its work has not gone unnoticed, with one of the charity’s founders, Meg Abernethy-Hope, receiving the Diana Award this year.
Seeing City and Rovers unite, BillyChip’s co-founder, John Hope, stated: ‘Home means everything to so many people, especially at Christmas. And so for those who are homeless, this time of year can feel more difficult, especially with the colder weather and longer nights.
‘It's been great to capture the positive power of football and see two fantastic local teams come together this Christmas to help us raise awareness of our work and support our local homeless community’.
Dan Bentley, City’s captain and goalkeeper, added, ‘Whilst City and Rovers might be football rivals, it's important that we can put those rivalries aside and back this amazing local charity to support those in the Bristol community who need help at this festive period and throughout the year’.
According to Bristol City Council, homelessness in Bristol has fallen this year, however there are still a large number of people in need of shelter. In January, there were over 1000 people in temporary accommodation, a figure that has increased over the course of this year.
While the Council continues with their efforts to house the homeless, it is still essential that people look out for those in need of shelter both in and out of the festive season, particularly in the midst of a pandemic.
As Adam Tutton, Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Rovers Community Trust, concluded, ‘We're delighted to be supporting such an important campaign to make sure our homeless community in Bristol will have access to hot food and drink during this festive period and beyond’.
Featured Image: BillyChip Foundation
For those who wish to make a donation, it is quick and easy to do on The BillyChip Foundation’s Website: https://www.billychip.com/donate/