Arsenal Football Club is dedicating Saturday’s Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion to The Arsenal Foundation, the Club’s charitable arm aimed at transforming young people’s lives.
Money raised from the matchday will go towards supporting even more education and sport projects in the UK and overseas, continuing the Club’s long and proud tradition of helping the community.
Since its launch in May 2012, The Arsenal Foundation has made grants towards a number of projects that are starting reap the benefits of the Club’s support:
Save the Children
A donation of £70,000 has already seen Save the Children deliver its Eat, Sleep, Learn, Play! (ESLP!) and Families and Schools Together (FAST) programmes for the first time in Islington, improving the wellbeing of over 100 families in the local area.
Duncombe Primary School and St. Mark’s Primary School embarked on the eight-week FAST programme – an initiative that enables parents to develop the skills and confidence they need to better support and take a more active role in their children’s education, while playing a greater role in their community.
Each week, families took part in practical and fun activities, designed to improve children’s wellbeing and help develop their relationships.
Members of Arsenal staff have also been given the opportunity in recent weeks to visit the schools and experience FAST first-hand.
Speaking about the positive impact of FAST at Duncombe Primary School, Headteacher, Barrie O'Shea, said:
"I'm enormously grateful to the parents for coming back to FAST week after week and supporting their children in the programme. Without a doubt, FAST has had a positive effect on those families who have attended over the past eight weeks and we at Duncombe look forward to taking part in the programme again. I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Save the Children and Arsenal for making it all happen.”
Further afield in China, 15,000 children attending some of Beijing’s most disadvantaged schools will benefit from a £300,000 donation over three years to Save the Children, aimed at improving their quality of their education. Abou Diaby and Johan Djourou visited one of the schools set to benefit from the grant during the Club’s Asia Tour this summer and presented a book of inspirational childhood tales from supporters and players.
Local Pitch Refurbishments
Since 2006, Arsenal has contributed more than £750,000 towards the upgrade of six local football pitches.
Earlier in the year, Carl Jenkinson visited a newly refurbished pitch on the Suffolk Estate in Hackney that had been made possible thanks to funding from The Arsenal Foundation and other partners including Mears Group and the Metropolitan Police, who combined to transform the site which had fallen into disrepair.
As well as removing and dismantling old metal goal and basketball posts, trenches were dug to accommodate new floodlights and a new brick wall built at the back of the pitch. Local youngsters, meanwhile, made their mark on the new site by producing bespoke artwork around the sides of the pitch, which will provide a positive focus for an area that has been blighted by gangs and antisocial behaviour.
Rowley Way in West Hampstead is the next site that will benefit from a donation and turn a once dilapidated facility into a new astroturfed facility for local youngsters to use.
Freedom from Torture
A joint project between Arsenal in the Community and Freedom from Torture uses football as a therapeutic tool and has been enjoying great success after just six months.
The unique collaboration offers clients from the local charity weekly Arsenal ESOL (English for speakers of other Languages) workshops, delivered by Arsenal in the Community staff which uses a similar approach to the popular Double Club model to develop confidence as well as language and social skills within the participants. The material is delivered in a class room setting and has ranged from Arsenal themed resources to healthy eating, travelling in London and recycling.
In April 2012, A Football Activity Group, run by Arsenal in the Community coaches and Freedom from Torture’s group therapist, Selcuk Berilgen, was set up to deliver football sessions together to a group of between 10-15 clients who meet once a week for football training in Elthorne Park, Islington. The group come from countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey, Sierra Leone, Iran, Ivory Coast, Afghanistan and Eritrea.
Selcuk said: “It’s been really good. The change has been visible from the word go. The group is supportive of one another – there are partnerships, friendships, team work and togetherness. Football helps in multiple ways – it’s great exercise, it’s healthy, they say they’re sleeping better, and the confidence in the body, for torture survivors, positively affects the mind too.
The Elfrida Society
A leading local charity based in Islington for adults with learning difficulties, the Elfrida Society holds football sessions every Monday morning, led by an Arsenal in the Community coach to ensure that there are no barriers to enjoying and playing football with Arsenal. A grant from The Arsenal Foundation will enable the department to continue running its Disability programmes with the charity.
To make a donation to support the work of The Arsenal Foundation, click here or text ‘AFCF12’ to 70070 along with the amount you would like to donate, e.g. £1.Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 7 Dec 2012