Hearts and Scotland striker Steven Naismith has teamed up again with a Glasgow charity to bring festive cheer to homeless people.
Loaves & Fishes is an organisation that helps the city’s homeless and operates a food bank in East Kilbride.
The footballer has been donating some of his earnings for the last eight years to fund the work of the organisation.
His money provides a festive lunch for homeless people in the city.
He joined Denis Curran MBE of Loaves & Fishes at Renfield St Stephen’s church in Bath Street for the Christmas dinner.
Steven said: “I have had the privilege of meeting so many good, clever and thoughtful people who find themselves in difficult circumstances not of their own making.
“Speaking with people like Denis from Loaves & Fishes who have such a vast and deep understanding of the many things that lead a person into unemployment, homelessness and often hunger has been a very humbling and educational experience for me.
“If I am being honest, it has been distressing to feel powerless to make a bigger impact.”
He added: “Being brought up in Ayrshire you are very aware of the loss of jobs in the mining industry and the communities that were supported by it.
“While football is a short career, I can’t begin to imagine what it feels like waking up one day to find out that the job and career you are trained in has disappeared.
“It seems these days more and more jobs are disappearing through automation and computerisation.
“Places like Post Offices and banks, that not only provide vital services but also important points of social contact, are disappearing from our streets.”
The footballer said: “I frequently feel powerless and a little bit ashamed at these events because I can’t do more.
“However, I think it helps for people to take an interest in others and listen and try to understand.
“Denis and his helpers are excellent at that. I am full of admiration for him and the team.
“As well as the harsh realities of survival each day, something that really strikes me is the disconnection that unemployment can bring from everyday life.
“Over and above the lack of money, unemployment can create social isolation which is why groups like Loaves & Fishes, as well as providing vital food and clothing, they also, importantly, build a community to help fill a void of social connection.
“This is something that those of us that are lucky enough to have a job and a family around us can often take for granted.”
Denis, of Loaves & Fishes, said: “Everyone connected with Loaves & Fishes wish to pass on our heartfelt thanks to Steven for his generosity and support.
“We do not receive any government funding for our work with the homeless or for the operation of a vital foodbank in East Kilbride, so for a professional footballer to help a grassroots charity like us is very much appreciated.”
“I have been involved with Loaves & Fishes for 26 years, and I have never experienced such a demand upon our services as I have this year.
“It might be 2018, almost 2019, but without doubt there is a poverty crisis in Scotland right now, with more and more families relying on emergency food packages from foodbanks.
“We are desperately in need of donations, to fund hot meals for the homeless and to provide food packages for the most needy in our society.
“If you are able to, I would urge you to help this Christmas and throughout the year.”
“I want to thank Steven for his kind donation but even more so for his help to raise awareness of the situation.
“The time and compassion he shows us is a real highlight for everyone.”