Woody Welcomes West Ham United
Updated: May 13
It is the penultimate home game of the season tomorrow, and we will be welcoming West Ham United. The Hammers or The Irons got their name because they formed as the Thames Ironworks in 1895. However, it's certainly the case that West Ham have been unable to hammer out a victory in the Premier League against our Brentford Boys on their last couple of clashes. And a victory is exactly what we are hoping will elude them again this time.
So, first things first, let's kick off by taking a look at the West Ham Foundation. The Foundation’s vision is to ‘harness the power of football to maximise life chances and inspire better futures for all.’ The work covered by the Foundation is as diverse as its key aims and ambitions. There are programmes for the very young, to the more mature members of the community, as well as providing mentoring around employment opportunities and ‘Twinning’ with HMP Chelmsford to work with prisoners ahead of their release and to try to reduce the risk of reoffending. The roll call of community opportunity really is very impressive.
One aspect of the work the Foundation does that stood out was it’s ‘Children in Care’ programme. This scheme aims to work with children who are in care aged between 5 and 16, as well as post 16 care leavers, to provide after school activities as well as identifying work experience opportunities and work on the child's personal development.
Another great initiative is ‘Advantage’ which fills a gap when a young person does not necessarily meet the threshold for support via CAMHS (Children and Adult Mental Health Services) or they do not wish to engage with the service. Young people involved in Advantage can expect a weekly mentoring session with trained youth worker as well as key interventions and help to reconnect with their aspirations. We know that the last few years have had a real impact on our children’s mental health so Woody and I think this sort of support is brilliant.
Here is the link so you can have a really good dig about as to what the West Ham Foundation do. Foundation | West Ham United F.C. (whufc.com)
Woody and I loved finding out about ‘Down Syndrome Extra21’, who are partnered with West Ham. This charity aims to support individuals with Down syndrome as well as their families and carers. They organise social events to allow the local Down syndrome community to come together to socialise and exchange ideas. The partnership with West Ham allows the charities members to get involved with activities provided by the Club.
One thing for sure is that comedienne, Rosie Jones is a fan of what West Ham are doing to promote and embed inclusion within their community. Despite being a self professed Wigan Athletic fan, Rosie has been fully engaged with The Hammers around the topics of disability and sexuality in sport.
Rosie spent time with the Women’s team back in 2021 to promote the ‘Rainbow Laces’ campaign. Rainbow Laces promotes and supports the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in sport. The campaign has been so important to so many, including former West Ham Women’s Captain, Gilly Flaherty.
After struggling to accept that she was gay in her teenage years, Gilly attempted suicide. The Rainbow Laces campaign gave Gilly a platform to speak openly about her sexuality.
Gilly and Rosie sat down to talk about the acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals in football, and Rosie summed it up brilliantly,
"Keep doing what you are doing because football is so much more than 90 minutes and whoever you are - you will get there and one day you will be able to live and love as your true authentic self."
Following on from her 2021 visit Rosie returned in December last year to celebrate ‘International Day for Persons with a Disability’. Rosie interviewed Womens Team forward, Claudia Walker and West Ham United Disabled Supporters Board (DSB) member, Trevor Bright. They covered off several topics including how the club has adapted to help Claudia train and play the sport she loves to how some people just don’t know what to say or do around someone with a disability and how they can come across as clumsy or even rude. Rosie Jones visits West Ham United to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities | West Ham United F.C. (whufc.com)
Finally, Woody and I were saddened to read about the sad passing of West Ham fan, Neal Crowley in 2021. Neal was a passionate football fan and driving force within the West Ham United Disabled Supporters Board and an eager volunteer for the Foundation. Neal raised thousands of pounds for charity during his lifetime and was pivotal in the development of match day accessibility for the football club. Our heart felt condolences to Neal’s family.
Tomorrow Woody will welcome West Ham fan Adele to the Gtech and we will be soaking up every last minute of the match against West Ham, as we really do not want this season to come to an end... and whilst West Ham are forever blowing bubbles, we hope we can burst theirs come the final whistle tomorrow – Come On The Bees!