A five-a-side football team from Booth House Lifehouse, Whitechapel, lifted the Partnership Trophy cup after seeing off dozens of competitors from across the UK, defeating Centenary House, Belfast, by five goals to two. Hundreds of footballers from Salvation Army Lifehouses (residential centres) and supported housing across the United Kingdom flocked to Goals Manchester’s five-a-side pitches for the chance to be lift The Salvation Army’s Partnership Trophy.

Those forming the teams have faced the challenges of homelessness and were game to show their strength and determination in overcoming adversity at the tournament on Thursday 24 September 2015.

The teams were joined by footballing legend John Barnes MBE, who presented the trophy to Booth House and to runners up Centenary House, Belfast; he also ran a football masterclass. The former Liverpool/England player, who set a new record for black players of the time by recording 79 appearances for the national side, had plenty of encouragement for the teams.

People living in Salvation Army Lifehouses often face a range of obstacles in rebuilding their lives after experiencing homelessness, from addressing mental health issues or relationship breakdowns to facing up to drug or alcohol addictions.

Midfield legend Barnes praised The Salvation Army for using football to help break the cycle of homelessness. He said: ‘It was great to see how the church and charity is using sport to help men and women tackle the issues that pushed them into homelessness. As you can see, football is such a great way for people to build relationships and boost their confidence.

‘The Salvation Army’s mantra is that homelessness does not define a person and I agree with that 100 per cent.

‘Some people just see me for being a footballer but that’s what I do, it’s not who I am.’

The Salvation Army’s Partnership Trophy is an annual event for men and women experiencing homelessness but who are currently living in Salvation Army Lifehouses (residential centres) and other supported housing units run by the Salvation Army Housing Association (SAHA). This year’s event took place for the first time at Goals Manchester, with people from Lifehouses across the country and as far afield as Glasgow, Skegness, Cardiff and Swindon.

Catrin Stark, The Salvation Army Homelessness Services’ Programme Development Manager, who organised this year’s event, said: ‘Every year we look forward to our Partnership Trophy as it is a fantastic opportunity to recognise all the achievements of our residents on and off the pitch. Those who play are facing different obstacles and are at different points on their journey but the football pitch is a brilliant equaliser for people, where the taking part, teamwork and challenge is the focus of the day, moving beyond the labels that people can so often place on them. We want them to capture that vision that “homeless is not who I am” – they are individuals of value and worth who we want to see triumph whatever challenges they face.

‘This year’s tournament was a brilliant day out, and gave our residents a sense of purpose as they worked towards the day and trained to beat the teams they have come up against in previous years. It also helped us to promote a healthy lifestyle in our centres, persuading residents to channel their frustrations, energy and determination into hard physical activity and learn through teamwork to manage how they handle pressure. For many it was a great opportunity to meet one of football’s legends and to learn from him.’

Jamal Paxton played for the winning Booth House side, which has been sponsored by Canary Wharf Group PLC. Jamal had lived at the Lifehouse for a year and a half before moving on to his own accommodation in Tooting.

Jamal said: ‘The Partnership Trophy has been fun. I used to live in Booth House but moved out recently so it’s been a great opportunity to come back and see people I know again. We are all from different backgrounds but socialise and work well together as a team.

‘I now live in Tooting and recently started working again as an electrician. I feel like I’m moving on.’

The Salvation Army’s emergency response unit provided refreshments during the course of the day and Pret a Manger provided lunch for all participants.