Manchester United are once again opening their doors to people in need this winter as they kick off the 2023 season of ‘Warm Hub’ evenings at Old Trafford.
The community support initiative is returning after the success of last year’s campaign which welcomed locals through the doors to Man United’s iconic home ground and the attached Red Café, helping thousands stay warm, grab a hot drink and a snack, as well as socialise with others.
Focusing on those vulnerable during the colder months, as well as those who might feel worried or lonely during the festive period, United‘s Warm Hubs proved to be a truly impactful resource to many Mancunians in 2022 and will no doubt do the same this year.
Starting from Monday, 4 December and repeating every week right through until January, the area will be available to everyone and completely free, staying open from 5-8pm every session.
To sign up for the Warm Hub evenings — part of the wider ‘United By Your Side’ campaign — people can arrive at Old Trafford and register via the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand reception and will then be guided into the Red Café where they can grab a brew and something to eat.
Completely open to the public, the United Foundation will also be delivering a multi-layered approach to support the local community this time around, hoping to be an even more vital outlet to people around Greater Manchester than ever.
In addition to the obvious physical benefits of the warm space, the club want the ground to be a welcoming place for those looking for social connection over the holidays and beyond to spend time with others in friendly and safe surroundings.
As a charity supporting children and young people, the Foundation has focused its efforts on supporting families amidst the cost-of-living crisis after participants from its Youth Voice groups expressed concerns over being cold during the winter months.
As a result, the Foundation has now invested more than £100,000 in over 22,000 warm clothing items for every young person across its 77 partner schools in Greater Manchester and beyond, including hats, gloves, scarves, blankets and more.
These items have complemented the winter coats that were distributed earlier this year, following the matchday appeal that was held ahead of the Brentford fixture in October at Old Trafford — a brilliant drive that the club is also hoping to continue.
Donations from fans, club staff and men’s and women’s team players have also led to more than 2,000 coats being received, all of which have since been redistributed to identified families in need, local poverty charities and a charity in Ukraine. Heartwarming stuff.
Similarly, more than 200 shoeboxes – received thanks to Manchester United and Foundation staff – will be handed out to identified children as gifts ahead of the festive season.
Speaking on the return of the scheme, United’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Collette Roche, said: “We want people who are struggling to know that they are not alone, particularly in our local community…
“Sadly, we also know many of our young people will be facing challenges during the winter period and we hope by providing them with some warm winter clothing or a Christmas gift through the Foundation’s great work we will bring some joy and support to those in need.”
Children under 16 attending this year’s sessions must be accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 16. The last warm hub evening of 2023 will be taking place on 18 December and will resume again in the New Year from 8 January until the last Monday of the month (29 January).
Featured Images — Manchester United Foundation/Valeriy Borzov (via Unsplash)
Man United striker Rasmus Højlund set to miss Manchester derby as muscle injury rules him out for ‘two to three weeks’
Man United have suffered a pretty big short-term blow as their in-form forward Rasmus Højlund has been diagnosed with a muscle injury which is set to see him out for “two to three weeks”, meaning he will likely miss the upcoming Manchester derby.
The Danish striker has been running red-hot of late, scoring seven in his last six league games for Man United and now sitting as the club’s top marksman with 13 goals and two assists across all competitions, but just as Erik ten Hag’s side look to have got going, they will now be without him for a spell.
Issuing an update on Friday, 23 February, United confirmed that a muscle injury is “expected to rule him out for two to three weeks”, meaning he will miss this weekend’s fixture against Fulham, the FA Cup fifth round against Nottingham Forest and most likely the Manchester derby.
The Red Devils are currently unbeaten in 2024 and on a run of six wins out of their last seven, with Højlund making the difference in many of them.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s game at Old Trafford, ten Hag went on to explain: “It is a small injury. That is what happens and the risk [when you are] playing at high intensity and training.”
The Dutchman reiterated, “As I say it is not a big injury, but he has to wait for one, two, three weeks”, though Reds will nevertheless be gutted to see the 21-year-old sidelined after having now started finding the net and putting together such an impressive run of performances.
While he emphasised that it is not a “big injury”, the timing couldn’t be more frustrating for a team that looks to be finally gathering some momentum, not only in and around the European places already but right on the trail of those chasing down the Champions League spots.
Højlund’s injury only adds to the club’s ever-growing list of players on the physio’s bench, including Tyrell Malacia, Mason Mount, Lisandro Martinez and another huge setback in Luke Shaw’s long-term hamstring problems.
In contrast, Manchester City have been lofted by comebacks from both Erling Haaland, who is getting back on the scoresheet once again, and midfielder maestro Kevin De Bruyne as they look to step up the pressure on league leaders Liverpool.
The treble-winners were always going to be putting in a very strong title defence but the return of KDB has reminded football fans just exactly how good he is. The Belgian was left on the bench against Brentford due to “minor niggles” but you can fully expect him to be raring to go come derby day.
Stockport County create a new community mural with young street artists in Edgeley
Stockport County is creating a brand new mural with a group of young street artists from the local area and a little help from one of their squad members.
This past February half-term, the Greater Manchester football club enlisted the help of some schoolkids and aspiring artists, along with local creatives from around the area to create a brand new piece of artwork right in the heart of the community.
With some paint, plenty of spray cans and the expertise of Manc muralist and designer, Oskar With A K, and poet Ruth Awolola, a dozen local secondary school pupils helped write, design and paint the mural — taking inspiration directly from the club and the thriving fan culture in Stockport.
There is no chant more iconic and important to the Hatters than their famous ‘The Scarf My Father Worse’ song and that’s exactly what the local artists have decided to immortalise.
The painting process began on Friday, 16 February and, as you can see, they even managed to rope in County defender Ethan Pye came along to lend a hand with the mural, armed with a can of spray paint to help the young people bring their ideas to life.
Being developed by the Stockport County Community Trust in collaboration with North West organisations, GRIT Studios and The Writing Squad, ‘The Scarf My Father Wore’ project has received £14,800 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Popping in a prime location on the corner of Castle Street and Mercian Way — just metres away from the Edgeley Park stadium and right at the beginning of the local village high street — this vibrant work of art will be passed by thousands of commuters and pedestrians every day.
Being brought to life in brilliant blue and white in line with the club’s colour scheme and proudly printing the title of the famous chant on the wall along with stencils of the County crest, footballs and many other details, it sits pride of place in the Stockport suburb.
Much like the historic chant and the symbolic scarf itself, this brilliant piece of street art will be passed down and enjoyed by generations to come, as well as make sure the club continues to play a key role in local culture.
County’s Community Trust CEO Alison Warwood said: “This project shows how art and writing by young people can make a real difference to the local community, and I can’t wait to see the end result.”
John Macaulay from GRIT Studios added: “We’re thrilled to be involved in such a collaborative and community-spirited initiative. Our young artists will be helping to create a lasting landmark that will become a focal point in Edgeley for years to come.”
With the Hatters currently top of the League Two table and looking at yet another promotion season, there feels like no better time for fans to wear the club on their sleeve, their scarves around their necks and now up on the wall too.