Brighton & Hove Albion’s Premier League game against Liverpool on Saturday will be dedicated to Seagulls fan and Samaritans volunteer Jill Howell.
Jill lost her life in tragic circumstances in October 2017, and both the club and charity have joined forces in her memory encouraging fans to look out for each other and to lend a listening ear if their friends, family members or colleagues are going through a tough time.
Albion players including Pascal Gross, Leon Balogun, Glenn Murray, Florin Andone and Bernardo have helped to create a video promoting the charity’s listening tips throughout the stadium.
It’s about showing you’re willing to listen, giving people your time, and not being put off if it takes a while before they are ready to open up.
Lisa Rodrigues is a volunteer from the local branch of Samaritans in Brighton and Hove, which is one of 201 branches across the UK and Ireland offering a free listening ear to anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed, for whatever reason. Lisa knew Jill as a volunteer and fellow Seagulls supporter too.
She said, “Jill was not only kind, calm and lovely to volunteer with, she was also a friend. We’d often talk about football, Jill travelled to nearly every away game.
“On Saturday, we want to let people know about Samaritans’ services in their local community, but it’s also about saying that anyone can be a good listener, whether that’s for the person you’re standing next to at football, or anywhere else in your life. We know that if Jill were here today, she’d love the idea. So it’s the best possible tribute we can pay her.”
Albion chief executive and deputy chairman, Paul Barber, says the club is proud to be supporting Samaritans.
He said, “Jill was dedicated to our club as a fan and committed to helping other people as a Samaritans volunteer. We are grateful to her family for the opportunity to promote the really important work Samaritans does and the difference simply listening can make.
"Look out for their volunteers handing out tips on ways to listen and get involved. Let’s show how powerful the football family can be when we work together like this – even Gully is going to be joining in!”
Both teams’ managers will be wearing Samaritans badges to show their support on the day. Albion boss Chris Hughton is also proud of everyone at the club for backing the initiative.
“The Seagulls are a massive part of the local community and we know we can count on our fans to support what we do on and off the pitch. Anyone can feel overwhelmed when life is tough, but anyone can offer support too. If today makes a difference to just one person who’s struggling, letting them know help is out there and that people do care, then it will be a success.”