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Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Ex-boxer and footballer hails huge response to opening gym to homeless people

Written by Dave Higgens

Former boxing champion and professional footballer Curtis Woodhouse has said a huge response to his offer to open his gym to homeless people at Christmas has "restored my faith in the human race".

He said he has received more than 15,000 messages since he decided to open up his business in Driffield, East Yorkshire, after reading about the plight of the homeless over the festive period.

Woodhouse (pictured) said messages have included inquires from people who needed accommodation but also scores of offers to help.

Now he is committed to offering a roof to help people at Christmas and new year and also providing a meal on the big day.

Woodhouse, 38, said he has also been touch with the charity Raise the Roof, which said its plans to help 28 homeless people in Hull were scuppered by the Royal Hotel after it cancelled its booking.

He said: "It was a spur of the moment thing, really. I was walking over to the shop and I couldn't believe how cold it was.

"I started to think about homeless people and I could not get my head around how people are going to be living outside here, in the fifth richest country in the world.

"I was sat there thinking that I've got this big building which is closed over Christmas.

"It's sat there doing nothing when people haven't got a roof over their heads.

"Now I've had 15,000 messages. I think I'm going to need a bigger gym. It's restored my faith in the human race."

Woodhouse was a professional footballer before switching to boxing, becoming British light-welterweight champion.

After retiring from the ring he returned to football and was manager of Bridlington Town.

He is looking forward to helping out at the gym with his family and other volunteers, and hopes his three children will learn valuable lessons about Christmas from the experience.

He said he has been overwhelmed by the offers of support, including a taxi firm which has offered to ferry people from Bridlington and Hull to the East Yorkshire market town of Driffield.

He said the gym will be open to anyone who needs it on December 24, 25 and 26 and again on December 31 and New Year's Day.

Mr Woodhouse said he is still looking for help from someone with experience of local bureaucracy as there may be "red tape" ahead.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Nick Potts / PA Wire.