FOOTBALLERS are usually forced to spend Christmas Day on the training pitch – with games normally scheduled for Boxing Day.
And with December 25 off this year, you could forgive them for indulging in the turkey and spending time with friends and family.
But not so for Hibs star Marvin Bartley – as he will be spending the day dishing out dinner to those less fortunate.
Marvin, 30, and his girlfriend Sasha will be offering two pairs of helping hands at a temporary shelter run by homelessness charity Crisis.
They will be amongst an army of volunteers at Crisis Skylight Edinburgh, based in the Southside Community Centre, hoping to make the festive period less lonely for vulnerable people.
Marvin said: “It’s something that I and my partner Sasha have been wanting to do for a few years but we’ve never had a proper chance to do it. We were talking last week and she said ‘let’s just sort it today’ so I rang up the people I know at Crisis and said we’d like to help.
“I think they’ve got a few things planned for us to do, such as serving food and having me going round to speak to people. I’m sure there will be a few Hibs fans amongst them and maybe even a few Hearts fans who won’t like me!”
The shelter is expecting around 300 people to gather over the two days, and Marvin and Sasha will be amongst volunteers providing everything from a chat to a hair cut.
The popular club player has been at Hibs since last summer.
Marvin said: “Crisis have a shelter in Edinburgh and I live here now so I feel like I’ll be helping my local community. It’s something I’m very passionate about because [homelessness] could happen to anyone.
“I think a lot of people view homeless people as drug addicts, alcoholics or whatever else, but a lot of the time there’s more to the story than that.”
Ann Landels, director at Crisis Scotland, said the Christmas event was important.
She said: “We offer people who might be on their own in Edinburgh this Christmas, or lost connection with their family or are living in a care shelter or B&B to come and just have a normal Christmas.
“For them to come and enjoy the food, the companionship, join in with activities and on Boxing Day we also offer a range of services and advice to help people move themselves out of homelessness.
In Scotland there were 34,662 homeless applications between April 2015 and March 2016 with 4040 of them made in Edinburgh.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Christmas can be an isolating time for those without a home to call their own. Many of us can take for granted the companionship and shelter we enjoy at Christmas, yet one in four homeless people spends the festive period alone. It is only through the generosity of thousands of volunteers that Crisis at Christmas can happen for homeless people.”