Pretty much all football players do some charity work these days.
From the most basic who hand out a few presents on a club organised trip to a hospital children’s ward at Christmas, to those who really make a difference and get involved on a more meaningful scale.
Sometimes though you come across a story that really grabs your attention, especially when it is for a less glamorous charity, where there might be a bit less sympathy from sections of the public, as compared to say charities that help sick and/or vulnerable children.
This week The Big Issue have highlighted the contribution made by Everton’s Steven Naismith.
I have to admit that as a player I didn’t really rate Naismith but over time he has turned out to be the kind of player that Everton have a habit of accumulating in recent times.
Somebody who works their socks off every time, grafts and grafts…and then you realise what a decent player he really is, at least as much due to his workrate/character, as his talent. (***He has scored 18 goals despite only starting 52 Premier League games – used largely from the bench).
It turns out that when Steven Naismith was in his early 20s at Rangers, he got involved with a Glasgow charity called Loaves and Fishes, an organisation that helps the city’s homeless and also operates as food bank.
In 2010, Naismith first started paying for hundreds of Christmas meals as well as other financial support and helping with increased awareness for the charity.
Naismith still supports Loaves and Fishes and this past week travelled up to Glasgow to help out in the serving of the meals as he does each year, as well as chatting to the people who are benefitting from his generosity.
Now only that, but since he moved to Everton in 2012, he has also been doing the same in his new adopted city, paying for hundreds of meals and generally helping out at Liverpool’s Whitechapel Centre, for the past three years.
Steven Naismith talking to The Big Issue:
“I am privileged to have the opportunity to once again support the great work that Denis [Curran, chairman of Loaves and Fishes] and his team of helpers do for people in need in Glasgow, giving them a hot meal, clothes, food parcels and probably most importantly, a warm welcome from people who care.
“Denis, his wife Cathy, and their volunteers do so much work to help those in desperate need. It is both humbling and inspiring in equal measure. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to speak to the people who come to Loaves and Fishes. Many of their stories make difficult listening, because of the severity of hardship they have endured.
“This is something I look forward to every year. It’s the start of Christmas for me. It’s brilliant to come and get a banter with some great characters – they tell it is how it is, some saying I’m a good footballer and others that think the opposite – and I’m happy that I can help.
“It’s a very small gesture for me but I’m always told how much it means to them.”
Denis Curran, Chairman of the Loaves and Fishes charity:
“We really appreciate Steven’s continued support and compassion. Apart from the money he has donated, the awareness he creates is priceless. The calls and donations we receive following these events are fantastic.
“Steven is a very special young man. The fact that he is not only continuing his support of Loaves and Fishes, but also building upon it by doing the same for the Whitechapel Centre in Liverpool says much about the type of man he is.
“Since he started helping us, Steven and his wife Moya now have a young family of their own with a two-year-old daughter and a new arrival early next year and yet he still finds time to show care and compassion for others living a very different life to his own.”
To read the full story from The Big Issue and see the heartwarming pictures of Steven Naismith’s contribution go HERE.