Former Scotland footballer Lou Macari creates glamping pods for homeless

Manchester United star provides housing for the homeless in empty factory

Manchester United legend Lou Macari is using glamping pods as accommodation for homeless people. The National
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Former Scotland international footballer Lou Macari transformed an empty factory into a homeless shelter containing wooden pods.

He came up with the idea after Covid-19 restrictions led to the closure of his centre in the English city of Stoke, which offered dormitory-style accommodation for vulnerable people.

The former Manchester United star set up the Macari Centre four years ago to provide emergency shelter and safe, short-term accommodation for people in need of support.

But last March it had to close owing to the risk of Covid-19 contagion, and 40 residents were moved to hotels.

In an attempt to keep them together, Mr Macari devised the idea of putting wooden glamping pods, fitted with heaters and beds, inside a factory the size of a football field.

“The pods really caught the imagination of the homeless people we bring in to the centre," he said.

"By having their own space, guests can start regaining a degree of independence and responsibility to ensure their room is kept clean, hygienic and well maintained.

"It is also a safe space where guests can take time out by themselves if they feel the need."

Macari, who represented Scotland in the 1978 World Cup and played more than 400 games for Manchester United, said the pods had made a huge difference to the residents.

“They’ve gone from untidy people, to showing a great deal of pride in their pods," he told the BBC.

“Because there’s a number outside, they can now go to the job centre, they can say, 'number 4 Regent Road and the house I live in is number 5'.

“The change it’s made is incredible."

The new factory pods are 300 yards from the original Macari Centre in Stoke.

Macari, who managed football clubs including Celtic, Huddersfield and Stoke City, came up with the idea after noticing there were a lot of homeless people in the city who needed help.

“In 2016, a news bulletin about the number of homeless people in Britain drove me out of the house and on to the streets of Stoke-on-Trent to find out for myself what life was like for someone who was homeless," he said.

"Having seen the evidence, I made up my mind, there and then, that I would do everything in my power to help those that find themselves homeless work towards better lives."

Stoke City chairman Peter Coates, who twice employed Macari as his manager in the 1990s, praised his work.

“What he does there is fantastic and tells you everything about the man," he said.

"He has a very strong social conscience and uses his position to do good in the community, and personally, I am full of admiration for what he is achieving.”