Removal van initiative helps Street Soccer Northern Ireland raise vital funds.

After Covid put their fundraisers to a stop, Belfast-based charity Street Soccer Northern Ireland came up with a new idea: Street Move, a social enterprise offering a removal service.

The team use their skills and employ their players as volunteers to help run the service. This gives people valuable work experience, while also fundraising for the charity.

Charging people per hour, they move furniture from house to house or take things to the dump. A paid member of staff drives the van and then players volunteer to help move furniture.

Iman is an asylum seeker from Iran who helps the driver. He’s currently living in temporary accommodation in Belfast with his wife and son while they wait for their refugee status to be approved.

“Street Soccer is fantastic. I was bored in the hotel and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to do some voluntary work to keep myself busy. I met Mehrshad (a fellow volunteer and former Homeless World Cup player) and he recommended Street Soccer to me, so I joined Street Soccer. I love to help others, so I joined Street Move (Removal Service). Now I am learning how to communicate with others and it keeps me busy and I feel happier. Every week I also play volleyball and football with Street Soccer’’, said Iman.

Street Move volunteers Iman (left) and former Homeless World Cup player Mehrshad.

Another volunteer is former Homeless World Cup player Mehrshad who represented Northern Ireland in Mexico in 2018. Now he’s back he is encouraging other people like Iman to get involved with Street Soccer Northern Ireland.

As well as providing a source of income for Street Soccer Northern Ireland, Street Move also is available to people who have low income at a heavily reduced rate. For Street Soccer clients, it’s completely free.

Street Soccer Northern Ireland co-founder Justin McMinn said: “Our staff have experience and expertise working with vulnerable adults, so we are more patient and understanding when supporting their clients to move.”

They also collect furniture donations and give them out to Street Soccer participants for free.

“This can really help people build their home and get on their feet”, Justin explains.

They’re already working with two hostels in the city and hope that they are the first of many. Their aim is to work with all the homeless hostels across Belfast, making them the number one removal service for the homeless sector.

Their unique selling point, Justin explains, is that they have the experience working with vulnerable individuals and they “will always go that bit further.”

Street Soccer Northern Ireland are our Street Football Partner in the country, find out more about their work here:

Words: Rebecca Corbett
Images: Street Soccer Northern Ireland