Woody Welcomes Liverpool
Wow, we cannot believe how much Liverpool get up to behind the scenes for their community. We are so impressed and inspired, we really hope you enjoy the read. We know from personal experience that one of the Liverpool players has a huge heart. Last season Woody was having a big cry because he wanted to see Sergi Canos but he had already left when this tall stranger crouched down and asked Woody if he was ok. Turned out to be Virgil Van Dijk, he was incredibly kind to Woody and listened to his woes about Sergi and gave him a cuddle before leaving. Get your tissues ready, we shed a little tear at some of the magic moments Liverpool have created for those that need some football magic in their lives.
Liverpool are one of the biggest and most well known clubs in the world and are equally famous for their attachment to their local community. So it is no surprise that the Liverpool FC Foundation reaches a huge amount of people in their region - they have over 50 different programmes running and these helped over 80,000 people in the year just ended, and these were overwhelmingly young people, including many with disabilities.
Their Respect 4 All programme is nearly 14 years old and provides free weekly multi-sports and activity sessions for children and young people with complex and additional needs. These sessions are run by FA qualified coaches and take place six days a week in four different locations across Liverpool. They were also one of the early Clubs to install a sensory room in their Anfield stadium, in the Kenny Dalglish Stand. The room has a range of specialist equipment and was created to help people with a sensory need such as autism to experience football matches in a comfortable environment. Woody has benefitted from this type of room here at Brentford and we cannot emphasise enough the difference this makes to families.
Red Together was recently launched by the Club in 2020, marking a new commitment by the club to champion equality, diversity and inclusion.
Ahead of this year's International Day Of People with Disabilities, here's a lovely film of Liverpool Captain Jordan Henderson meeting a young supporter, Joel, whose family had been told he'd never walk or talk again following a terrible accident. Joel has a passion for football and all things LFC and is now a regular attendee at LFC's weekly wheelchair sessions, which he enjoys immensely. Jordan heard about Joel's story and invited him for a kickabout at the team's training centre.
We're still feeling Christmassy, so it was heartening to read about how Red Neighbours, the Foundation's local community team, recently organised the donation and delivery of 1,500 Chtristmas food hampers to local residents across Anfield and Kirby. Each Hamper had food for 4- 6 people to last up to four days and included a fresh turkey and trimmings. The Christmas hamper delivery was just one part of Red Neighbours' "Operation Christmas Magic" campaign - now in its third year.It aims to support local people during the festive period with a particular focus on child and food poverty. Other activities included hosting free community lunches at Anfield, holding a festive food collection at their last match of last year on the 20th December, and donating over a 1,000 gits to their local commercial radio station Radio City's Cash For Kids Mission Christmas.
Alder Hey & MOVE
We thought that this was a very inspiring project involving children with Cystic Fibrosis. Since early 2018 the LFC Foundation has provided specialist coaching support for children living with Cystic Fibrosis at Alder Hey Children's hospital. The sessions - called MOVE - take place every Wednesday with the children attending the clinic on a 6- 8 week cycle. The activities focus on improving fundamental movements; agility, balance, coordination and speed. Each child taking part has a coach mentor to help drive their participation. We think this is wonderful, and as even a hospital as renowned as Alder Hey can be a scary place for a child, we can just imagine how uplifting it must be to their spirits when the LFC coaches turn up in their football colours!
And while on Alder Hey and Liverpool FC, this is just beautiful with some players being able to do their annual pre-Christmas visit to the hospital for the first time since the pandemic.
The Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association (LDSA) was formed in 2003 by LFC in conjunction with its fans. It represents supporters at official club meetings and functions and lobbies on their behalf and also organises a host of social events for its members.It has also recently started to produce its own magazine 'The Twelfth Man' which really helps to bring all of its wide range of activities to life - from hugely serious matters like having its disabled fans represented at hearings into the disgraceful treatment of fans at the European Cup Final in France in May of last year, through to the incredible and inspiring exploits of its members and fundraisers.
We loved reading about the fundraiser known as Mama Lyn who is well known for her range of money-raising activities which range from home food classes and delivering food parcels, to abseiling down Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral and Skydiving from planes - we'd love to meet Mama Lyn!
And finally, this is priceless. Harry Corness is one of the younger members of the LDSA. He was born with the condition spina bifida and is a wheelchair user but doesn't let any obstacles get in his way. He's a huge sports fan - who enjoys football, boxing, basketball and swimming - and one day hopes to compete in the Paralympics. Earlier in the season he had raised more than £2,000 for the LDSA by taking part in a run.
The LDSA decided to reward him with a trip to the Liverpool main training centre in Kirkby. They told him it was to have him look around the facilities and inspect them from a disabled supporter's perspective, but on the day itself...they surprised him. He was really there to present the LDSA's Men's Player Of The Year Award to none other than Mo Salah!
If you ever want to explain the power of football to someone, just show them this video.
We salute everyone who was involved in this.
And it is a pleasure for Woody to welcome Liverpool FC!