Francis Coquelin and Ainsley Maitland-Niles helped celebrate the launch of our new football programme with youth homeless charity Centrepoint on Thursday.
The Arsenal duo met young men and women involved in the Arsenal Foundation-funded scheme at the Arsenal Hub – home of Arsenal in the Community.
Francis helped former participant and now Centrepoint football coach Nathan Auguste deliver a training session, with Ainsley taking part in drills alongside the rest of the group.
The French midfielder also attended a workshop designed to build self-esteem and prepare the group for future employment opportunities.
The programme – which is delivered jointly by Arsenal in the Community and Centrepoint - will use the Arsenal name to engage individuals living in temporary accommodation, and will offer them emotional support and access to employment pathways.
The programme was funded with the help of the first team squad, who all donated a day’s wages to The Arsenal Foundation at our dedicated charity matchday against Stoke City last December.
Francis presented the group with a special Centrepoint warm-up shirt from the matchday, to mark the occasion, and said: "It’s been a pleasure to meet the guys in our new project – to see the difference our football club can make to people facing a difficult time.
"A club like Arsenal has a special connection with young people, and I’m proud we make the most of that opportunity. Of course if I can help in some way by making a donation or meeting the group – it’s a privilege for me to do that."
Centrepoint volunteer coach Nathan added: "It’s great that Arsenal are doing things like this for the community. I saw the programme advertised in my hostel and I thought I’d come along and participate. I wasn’t doing anything with my time then but I’ve come a long way since I started here as a player.
"From Arsenal I was selected to represent Street Football Team England: I’ve represented my country, captained my country. I’m working full time in football now and I get to give something back, to come back and volunteer my time to help other people out who were in similar situations to me."
This is the latest project in a long running relationship between Arsenal and Centrepoint. We raised £500,000 to build a state-of-the-art health and wellbeing centre for homeless young people in London, following our charity of the season partnership in 2010/11.
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