Everton caretaker manager David Unsworth and the Everton's Under-23 squad joined more than 200 brave fans by sleeping out in the Sir Philip Carter Park Stand last night as they tackled the elements at the Everton in the Community Goodison Sleepout.
Led by Unsworth, his back room team and Everton's Under-23 squad, who are current Premier League 2 champions, arrived at Goodison Park armed with sleeping bags and warm clothing to help see them through the night as they took part in the Goodison Sleepout for the second successive season. The gruelling fundraiser is aimed at raising awareness and money, with the funds currently standing at over £15,000, to assist the Club's official charity in combatting homelessness in the city of Liverpool.
With more than four times as many Evertonians taking part than last year, the Sir Philip Carter Park Stand looked slightly different to a matchday as fans opted for a variety of different sleeping options for the night; whether that be huddled at the back of the stand, in between the rows of seats, on top of the seats themselves or the relative shelter of the concourse - all in an attempt to keep warm as temperatures dropped as low as 5 degrees celsius.
On arrival those taking part were welcomed by the Club's Fundraising Team and treated to a Q and A with Unsworth and former manager and player, Joe Royle, along with soup, sandwiches and hot drinks ahead of their long and cold night. Some fans brought books, some brought guitars for an impromptu singalong whilst others just chose to reflect quietly on the night ahead from their positions whilst looking out across the Goodison Park pitch.
Speaking in the morning Unsworth said: “It's been another terrific yet eye-opening Sleepout here at Goodison Park and the fact that we have been joined by so many Evertonians is just fantastic.
“I was committed to taking part in this Sleepout and a promise is a promise. Nothing is more important to me right now than having been here tonight. Last year's Sleepout culminated in the launch of our ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is' campaign and less than 12 months later, we have raised more than a quarter of a million pounds and have secured a property to house vulnerable young adults on the cusp of homelessness.”
Everton in the Community's Executive Director, Phil Duffy, added: “The atmosphere has been so representative of the Everton family and yet again enforces that looking after our community is at the heart of everything that we do. Everyone deserves to have a roof over their heads and hopefully we can raise some much needed funds to further develop our work in supporting the city's homeless.” There is still the chance for people to donate by simply texting SOUT17 £3 to 70070.