Street Soccer NI is a football project for disadvantaged groups such as homeless people, people suffering from substance abuse, refugees, asylum seekers, and those who are long-term unemployed. They provide free weekly football sessions and education, including coaching courses. Street Soccer NI’s three main partners are Northern Ireland Housing Executive, East Belfast Mission, and the Irish Football Association.
The benefits of participation include better physical and mental health, increased confidence and self-esteem, motivation, structure, friendships, support with housing and employment, help to overcome addictions, and more.
The Northern Ireland Assembly is currently discussing proposals to separate the housing management and other functions of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, and to transfer them to new bodies. This has raised many concerns about the delivery of services for homeless people.
As pressures on social housing grow due to the economic crisis and rising unemployment, concerns exist that bureaucratic changes may fail to provide successful protection of homeless people (Crisis.org, 2014).