Story of mum's death inspires Preston North End's Louis Moult to help city's most vulnerable at The Foxton Centre
One of Preston North End's star strikers has been using his own experiences of loss, addiction and homelessness to champion giving back to the city's most vulnerable.
Lilywhites forward Louis Moult is urging Prestonians to support the Foxton Centre, the city’s leading charity working to tackle homelessness and help adults in need.
The charity, made up 20 staff member and 40 volunteers, provides essential help to those without a place to live, people suffering from substance abuse and with mental health issues.
For Stoke-native Louis, the issue is extremely close to his heart because of his own family’s experiences with homelessness.
When he was just 15 years old his mum Vicky died aged 43 after suffering from alcoholism.
“It wasn’t nice at all,” Louis explained.
“It made me grow up a lot quicker with her passing away; not having a mum was difficult for me and the family.
“It’s a subject close to my heart. She was getting better but the alcohol got the better of her and unfortunately she passed away.
“I never really got over it but time is a healer. It’s difficult and still is – but if I can share my story and help others than that can only be a good thing.”
Louis revealed how he had a “couple of dark years” following his mum’s death, saying: “At such a young age I think you don’t know how to cope [with loss].
“You don’t know and you shut people off. You are quiet and introverted and not showing feelings – that’s something I did.
“I didn’t turn up to school and stayed in my bedroom playing on the Playstation. Maybe that was me grieving – I just wanted to be on my own – but it’s possibly the worst thing you can do.
“If anyone is in that situation it’s important to speak to people and share feelings and talk about your concerns.
“It helps to get stuff off of your mind. It’s how I dealt with it in the end.”
Regarding his mum, Louis said visiting places like the Foxton Centre and speaking about her and his experience is a coping mechanism in itself.
“Of course I still get emotional but it’s positive that I am still thinking about and remembering mum.”
The 26-year-old visited the Foxton Centre two weeks ago as part of North End’s work in the community.
He said: “The club asked me about it and straight away I was eager to get involved and try to help and spread the word about what they do.
“Addiction and homelessness are issues close to my heart. It’s not nice to see people on the streets especially with how cold it is in the winter – as well as Christmas seen as a ‘family time’. Not everyone is quite as lucky as us.
“When I went to the Foxton Centre it was clear it is a family to people. They rely on it.”
In October the centre was used by 65 rough sleepers, 32 of which were provided with temporary accommodation.
In November this number was 55, with 24 put into temporary housing.
Jeff Marsh, chief executive of the Foxton Centre, said: “It was really heartwarming; Louis is a such a nice young man doing extremely well in his career which is great in itself.
“Part of his form0ative years was losing his mum to alcohol. He spoke passionately on that to me and it had a huge impact on service users who were there struggling with alcohol.
“It lifted everyone – the staff, volunteers, service users. Someone doing really well being interested in what happens here with those that are struggling...it’s fantastic to receive his support. We are all only small steps away from our lives falling apart.”
It was the first time Louis had visited the charity where he spoke to a few of the people and made a couple of cups of coffee for the charity’s users.
“It brought back a few memories”, he added. “They are just people at the end of the day and it was nice to take their minds of their troubles and the way they were speaking to me I think they were pleased to see I was there.
“Hopefully it helps them and makes them know they are not alone.”
North End also had a six-day donation centre leading up until its fixture against Millwall on Saturday, December 15, where it encouraged fans to donate the likes of nonperishable foods, toiletries, clothing, children’s gifts and washing powder.
There was so much given that it took three car journeys to deliver everything, Louis revealed.
As well as this, 36 tickets were donated to the centre for the Boxing Day fixture against Hull City, which are to be handed out to underprivileged children.
“We work with families that aren’t well off,” Jeff explained, “so the tickets will be great Christmas presents for the kids who can’t afford to buy them.”
A Â£250 donation was also given to the centre to resurface its pool table.
Louis’ desire to help is also rooted in his uncle’s experience of homelessness as a result of alcoholism.
He spent a year living with Louis and his dad Arthur back in Stoke before turning back to alcohol and finding his way back on the streets.
He said: “He was similar to my mum; a big drinker.
“He’s back in a house now thanks to a similar organisation to the Foxton Centre, which helped him back on his feet and got his life in order. It’s one of the reasons why I like to help places like this.
“I always think as a footballer you are in the headlines so it’s important to be role models in and around the place where you play.
“If it helps I am happy to do things like this and I actually get a massive thrill from it.
“I have said to North End I am willing to help in any way to help others.”
To support The Foxton Centre in its 50th year, download a sponsorship pack from https://www.thefoxtoncentre.co.uk/donate
The charity, which has a turnover of around Â£600,000 also needs ongoing donations of cash and goods such as toiletries.
Volunteers are also always wanted.