A generous donation from pub landlord, Sean Brett, from The Old Nags Head in Manchester is paying for a special trip to Munich for Manchester resident Liam Carey who was supported by Depaul UK’s Manchester-based homelessness prevention service, Pathfinder.

Manchester Munich Memorial Foundation received Sean’s donation to send someone to Munich, and the organisation chose Liam, who was once homeless as a teen, as he now helps other young people at risk of homelessness. Liam was chosen from a host of individuals to attend their annual memorial service on 6 February.

As a client ambassador for youth homelessness charity, Depaul UK, Liam now helps other young people at risk of homelessness through the eye of his own experience, Liam, will travel to the service with the MMMF, a group of MUFC fans who raise funds to support local charities in memory of Manchester United players, staff and others who died in the 1958 Munich Air Disaster.

Liam, whose mother died from non-Hodgkin lymphoma when he was 16 years old, returned from work one day to realise his father had ‘lost the family home’. He spent years sofa surfing and sleeping on public benches until he was helped by Depaul UK’s service in Manchester.

Last week, Liam’s reaction to being selected to join the MMMF in Munich was caught on film, at a presentation at a service run by Depaul UK in Manchester, where he also accepted a generous £12,000 donation on behalf of Depaul UK from the MMMF to help other young people in the area at risk of homelessness.

At the presentation and filming, Ifty Ahmed, chairman of MMMF and Anthony Crook trustee, spoke about why they have chosen to support Depaul UK and the reason behind inviting Liam to Munich. They said:

The MMMF are delighted to donate £12000 to Depaul UK in Manchester. We want to help disadvantaged and homeless young people, and Depaul UK do a fantastic job in giving young people a big helping hand towards a better life. We are proud to support Depaul UK and will continue to do so in the future.

“Liam was chosen for the Munich trip as he is someone that fits the category of people Manchester Munich Memorial Foundation is most interested in supporting. We want to help young people who are struggling. We do our best through our three charities here in the UK. Obviously, Depaul UK is for young people at risk of becoming homeless, so when we looked at Liam, saw that his mother died when he was just 16 and he lost his family home, we also saw that he’s still managed to change and turn his life around, thanks to the help of Depaul UK and himself – we think this is tremendous.

“It’s important to have young people represented at the memorial. Bear in mind that the Busby Babes were only the age of 21, up to 25 that died. So there’s a resonance thing with the youth.

“That’s why we want to take them to Munich, to learn about United’s history. And they can tell their kids and the grandkids, it’s perpetual. We must thank Sean Brett – a MMMF donor, for his generosity in this case, as he is the one who has specifically asked if the money can be used for somebody who would not otherwise be able to experience the Munich service in February. So we’re absolutely thrilled that Liam can join us because of him.”

Liam, who is still in shock about being nominated for the trip, said: “It’s still not sunk in, really, properly. Like, wow, I’m going. Everything’s paid for. You know. Someone like me, normally, it’s not like I’m flushed with cash. So I don’t really have the opportunity to pay to go on holiday. Best I can hope for is, like, Blackpool.

“I’m looking forward to going to the memorial to pay my respects, although it doesn’t matter what team you support, at the end of the day, for me it’s all about Manchester. It’s part of our culture. It’s who we are. It’s engraved. In primary school, we learn about Munich. You know, it’s not just about football. It’s about the lives that got lost.

“I’m also so grateful to the MMMF for their donation to Depaul UK to help other young people at risk of homelessness in the region. You know, when I was struggling, when I didn’t have anything, I was homeless. I was sofa-surfing. They gave me the ability to go speak to someone and helped with clothes, toiletries, and things I needed to survive.

“I hope my story shows that it’s possible to go through hardship and come out the other side and still be recognised. It shows that anything is possible with hard work. For me, it’s not been plain sailing and there were times that I wanted to give up. I’m so glad I didn’t.”

At the start of last year (January 2023) it was reported that Manchester has the highest rate of homelessness in the North West, with one in 74 people being homeless.* For young people at risk, Depaul UK believes this is likely to be down to a combined impact of increased debt, spiralling bills, and low incomes leading to conflict in households, which exacerbates family and relationship breakdowns.