The BIG Give

Date published: Thursday, December 5, 2013

OLDHAM Rugby League Club have linked up with one of the borough’s leading and award-winning community projects to provide food and clothing this Christmas for the homeless, hungry and destitute.

Lee Marsland, the driving force behind Impact Community Project, has welcomed the rugby league club’s offer of help.

Said Lee: “It’s fantastic to receive the support and backing of the Roughyeds.

“We’re embarking on a project called ‘The Big Give’ and the rugby club will be our partners, working closely with us in the next three weeks as we collect food and clothes for those who desperately need it.”

Lee, who will be 36 on Christmas Day, will be heading a team of volunteers who will be spending time with the homeless on the streets of city centre Manchester in the run-up to Christmas.

Then, over the festive season itself, Oldham RL Club chairman Chris Hamilton will be in the city, mingling with the homeless and distributing sandwiches.

Chris has already worked closely with Lee and Impact Community Project on other community-linked initiatives in Limehurst Village, close to the club’s Whitebank Stadium, and surrounding areas.

He hopes to galvanise the support of Roughyeds’ supporters, and others, in donating tinned and other non-perishable food as well as items such as gloves, scarves, woolly hats, jumpers, sleeping bags and blankets.

They will be distributed to those in desperate need of help, mainly in the Limehurst, Collier Hill and Hollins areas, but also in other parts of the borough.

Be it food or clothing, all donations can be left at Oasis Academy Oldham, Hollins Road (main reception) between 9am and 4pm Monday to Friday or at the refreshment hut at the Whitebank Stadium each Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 11.30am and 1pm when staff will be there to sell season tickets.

Donations can be received up to and including Friday, December 20.

Said Chris: “It’s a privilege to work with Lee on a project like this. He is an amazing guy with a truly remarkable and inspirational story to tell.

“Christmas is a time for giving and I feel sure Roughyeds supporters, and lots of other people, will want to get involved as we strive to do our bit for people who are less fortunate than many of us.

“Lee and his Impact organisation do a terrific job all year round, but Christmas can be a desperate time for many thousands of people who are not necessarily homeless, but who have to go short on food or who are in desperate need of clothing just to keep warm.

“I’ll be humbled to go out on the streets of Manchester over Christmas but before then we have a lot of work to do nearer to home and we urgently need public support.”

Mr Hamilton wishes to thank Oasis Academy Oldham and its principal, David Hayes, for allowing donations to be collected at Oasis and also Pret a Manger, Cross Street, Manchester for donating unused food for the homeless.

Lee Marsland launched Impact Community Project seven years ago, as an initiative that forms part of the work of Impact Community Church.

It was a life-changing experience for this now happily married father of five and grandfather of two, who ran away from his Limeside home at the age of 11, was brought up in care and in foster homes, got himself in trouble with the law and mixed up with drugs and later lived on the streets for several years.

Married to Lesley, who will be working closely with him on ‘The Big Give’, Lee recalled: “At the age of 21 I was desperately low, suicidal in fact. I knew I had to do something about it or my life would be over.

“I got a grip, sorted myself out.

“But out there today there are a lot of people like I was back then. They are crying out for help. I know that from personal experience. I like to think that with the help of a lot of other people I am putting something back as a thank-you to those in the community who helped me when I needed it most.”

Lee, who still lives in Limehurst Village, works a 72-hour week for Impact on initiatives that change lives and make a difference to the community. Nearly half of that work schedule is done as a volunteer.

Oasis Academy Oldham are delighted to back this scheme by offering use of the Academy as a drop off point.

Principal David Hayes said: “As a focal point for the local community things like this are at the heart of what Oasis Academy stands for and we recognise that there are people less fortunate than us who need that little bit of help. We are hoping that the Academy will be awash with donations from local people wanting to help others and it is something that we will be encouraging our staff to support also. Lets hope it is a big success.”

In addition the Royal Bank of Scotland on Church Terrace, Oldham (opposite the old Town Hall) has become the latest business to offer to be a collection point for donations of tinned food and warm clothing.

Oldham Rugby League Chairman Christopher Hamilton commented: “It says a lot about the people and businesses of Oldham that both Oasis Academy Oldham and the Royal Bank of Scotland were so supportive when I asked them for assistance. I know that this town has always helped others in their time of need and this is no different. To have both RBS and Oasis on board helping us with this is a major boost and hopefully people will utilise their kind offer by filling the various drop-off points with donations!

“Ourselves and Impact Community Church will be working hard to make sure every donation reaches those who need it most.”