England World Cup star joins more than 100 volunteers as HomeServe transforms Preston community centre

A community centre in Preston used to help serve the town’s homeless community will get a sparkling makeover on the house thanks to an army of more than 100 HomeServe volunteers – and an England World Cup rugby star.

HomeServe plumber Marlie Packer, who won her 50th cap during the World Cup in Ireland, marked her first day back on the job by joining the team at the Foxton Centre, which supports a range of vulnerable people and communities in Preston.

The bathrooms and interior décor at Knowsley Street site will be revamped over the course of seven days by engineers and office staff who answered the call.

The startling response from home assistance provider HomeServe’s People means the project will be the firm’s biggest ever volunteering effort.

The work is all part of HomeServe’s ‘BuildServe’ project, in which the company’s People ‘Dare to Care’ and volunteer to make a difference in the communities in which they live and work.

HomeServe Brand Director John Greaves added: “It’s fantastic to have Marlie back working with us. We are all so proud of what she and the rest of the team achieved during the World Cup and it was just unfortunate that they came up against a very good New Zealand team in the final.

“She jumped at the chance to get involved in Preston and her skills will really prove valuable to the team on what is a very challenging project.”

The Foxton Centre is particularly important to the company as it is one of the sites served by the Midland Langar Seva Society (MLSS) – a charity, supported by HomeServe, which helps to feed, clothe and support city residents needing short-term support as well as homeless people in the region.

“The Foxton Centre is a very special place to us and one that our People know well through their volunteering,” John added. “We’ve been humbled by the offers of help from our People and we’ll be seeing more than 100 of them down there over the course of the week, doing what they can to help.

“Making a difference in the communities in which our People live and work is part of who we are as a company. This is the biggest volunteering project that HomeServe has ever undertaken and we can’t wait to see how it looks when we’re finished.”

Marlie, who plays as a flanker for England, said: “It was a real honour to play for my country at another World Cup and it was heartbreaking to come so close to winning. I haven’t watched the final back yet but when I do, I’m sure I’ll realise that we achieved something special even if we didn’t win.

“But now my focus is back with HomeServe and when I heard about this project I jumped at the chance to come along and lend a hand.

“This kind of thing is what makes HomeServe such a special company to work for. We are able to go out into the community and make a difference to people’s lives.”

The Foxton Centre works with vulnerable people of all ages in Preston, supporting their needs with kids clubs, homeless drop-ins and allotments projects. Staff also work with young people to identify those most at risk of becoming involved with drugs, alcohol, early sexual activity and gang crime.

Foxton Centre chief executive Jeff Marsh said: “The Foxton Centre works with some of the most vulnerable and in need people in our local community, including many homeless and street homeless people.

“The quality of the building is so important to us because people who are sleeping rough are coming to us in need of a shower and a wash. We need to provide the appropriate facilities to be able to help them as much as possible.

“The centre is in a bad state at the moment but this work will make such a difference to our ability to provide people’s basic needs and help get them back on their feet again.

“HomeServe has been a huge supporter of the work we do here and we’re so grateful for their support. HomeServer staff have given their time and their possessions to help the people we work with and we can’t thank them enough.”

The seven-day revamp of the centre started on September 13, with work due to finish ahead of the big reveal on the September 21.

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