Doubt settles over Neville Southall like a brooding cloud on an otherwise sunny afternoon in Liverpool. Before he begins talking animatedly for two hours about sex workers, mental health, skeletons, transgender issues, Theresa May, the agony of Loris Karius, the hounding of Raheem Sterling, why Piers Morgan is “a massive cock”, how to annoy Vladimir Putin, the World Cup and his dream of uniting disenfranchised people, Southall is on the brink of cancelling this interview.
This should be a stress-free day back on Merseyside for the former Everton and Wales footballer, who was arguably the world’s best goalkeeper for a while in the 1980s, as he takes a break from his consuming job at a special needs school in Ebbw Vale. Before he became a celebrated footballer, Southall had been a hod-carrier, a binman and a cleaner. So it is not surprising that, aged 59, he should now work at a pupil referral unit – offering education for children excluded from mainstream schools.
Southall is also an extraordinary presence on Twitter. He has 134,000 followers Andre Branch">http://www.officialdolphinslockerroom.com/elite-andre-branch-jersey">Andre Branch but, rather than plugging a product or spreading bile, Southall gives up his Twitter page regularly to people who would not normally have such a platform to address the challenges and inequities they face. On any given night Southall’s Twitter feed might contain intelligent explanations from people in the LGBT community, a drugs helpline, a suicide bereavement charity or a sex workers’ collective.
Such generosity is on the verge of scuppering my plans. Southall, hearing of my hope for a detailed interview, is uncomfortable. He would prefer I speak first to some of the groups he is trying to help rather than have attention focused on him.
Southall listens while it is explained that my primary interest is his collaborative work on Twitter. Typically, he says, “OK, then,” as we settle down for one of the most exhaustive and unusual conversations I’ve had under the modest banner of a sports interview.
“I like Twitter because it brings me into contact with people I’d never meet,” Southall says. “I like what makes people tick. So I’m thinking: ‘How mentally strong have these women got to be in the sex industry?’ Even if you like it, at some stage you’re going to get hurt.”
If many people become parochial and dogmatic as they grow older then Southall is on a quest to open himself up and learn. Before he allowed his Twitter page to become an occasional platform for sex workers, Southall admits his preconceptions. “I thought it was just people stuck on street corners. But when you talk to them they become real. If you cut them they bleed. Josh Bynes Jersey If you tell them a joke they laugh sometimes. They hurt, they cry. Eventually they die the same as you and me. We think of them as Authentic Trey Flowers Jersey statistics or problems but they can come from your family or friends.
“When they first came on my Twitter I wasn’t sure how they’d be taken. But people listened because they are genuinely interested. How often do you get a chance to listen to a sex worker or ask them questions? People engaged positively and sensibly. I’ve got a Authentic Marvin Williams Jersey bit of flak because if I stick up for sex workers some people think I’m supporting the trafficking of women. That’s stupid. It could be your mum, your daughter, your sister, your brother. You don’t know who is doing sex work. I’m trying to get across what they actually do and the barriers they face.
Southall adopts a similarly inclusive approach when working with people in drug awareness, the LGBT community and, “this week we have a big mental health push, a BAME evening, the police are coming on and people who address knife crime”.
Which subject had the biggest impact? “The LGBT one. I got 30,000 new followers within a week. More importantly, I’m learning new stuff. I started with the LGBT stuff because if the kids at school ask a question I wouldn’t have a clue. But I spoke to a few Trans people about operations. They were http://www.officialnationalstore.com/Bryce_Harper_Jersey really nice and explained stuff I knew nothing about.”
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