The work of the Arsenal Foundation and initiatives it supports, have touched the lives of a great number of people in a variety of ways.
Through the Gunners Fund, the Arsenal Foundation annually distributes £50,000 locally where a donation can have an impact on community life.
The Arsenal Foundation has helped fund Remark!, an organisation that offers British Sign Language training and supports deaf people to live independently. James McDermott, 62, is one who has benefitted from Remark! Community’s lunch club
Having been born profoundly deaf, a big challenge throughout my life has been a lack of access and interpreters – we need more interpreters. There have also been cuts to social workers, which affects me and the whole deaf community.
Social workers traditionally helped deaf people with everything – they interpreted doctors appointments and job interviews, helped with housing and dealt with letters and correspondence. Now they have a limited remit.
Someone in the deaf community told me that Remark! Community runs a lunch club and that lots of deaf people meet there, so I decided to go along. The deaf community is closely linked and we share information via word of mouth.
The lunch club is every Wednesday at Islington Ecology Centre, right next door to the magnificent Emirates Stadium and Arsenal Tube station. The venue is great and the staff are really friendly. We have a variety of different foods every week, from a light finger buffet in summer to a full Christmas dinner.
Aside from lunch, we come to meet with friends, play cards, talk and generally catch up with one another. We can also share information and news.
When I go I meet new people who I don’t know who then become friends. I also see old friends who I haven’t seen for a long time. Many deaf people are socially isolated and Remark! Community’s main aim is to reduce isolation. Lots of older people need these clubs to meet others who can communicate in British Sign Language.
The volunteers really look after us, and group leader Davod Jarchlou, an avid Arsenal fan, gives us information about events and what’s happening within the deaf community. There’s also someone who can help us with phone calls, if we need it.
The club has made a big difference to my life. Before I came here, I never used to go anywhere on a Wednesday. I used to just stay in my flat, which was boring and isolating. Going to the lunch club makes me get out regularly. Remark! Community run several projects and I have attended some one-off events, like the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Street Party in 2012 and BSL Pride day in 2013.
I’m from Liverpool so I support them, but we went on a tour of Emirates Stadium with the lunch club, which was really interesting, and it’s great that a club like Arsenal is able to help the local community. It’s very valuable to us, and without Remark! There wouldn’t be anything locally for deaf people to do.
For more info visit www.remark.uk.com
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