West Ham’s comprehensive community plan will tackle eleven issues – from loneliness to learning, poverty to participation
Billed as the most ambitious Premier League community programme ever devised, West Ham’s Players’ Project will involve footballers from all of the club’s squads and reach 100,000 people over the next three years.
The first-team players will be the project’s most high-profile ambassadors and they are proud to be involved – none more so than club captain Mark Noble.
“Football has the power to do great things,” he said. “As players we are all aware of our role as ambassadors, representing not only the football club but the community that surrounds us, and it is important that we continue to strengthen that bond.”
Mark, who has a long and proud association with West Ham, added: “This football club is at the centre of a community that has been an integral part of my life since the day I was born. I grew up in Canning Town and have always known about the values held dear by the working-class people of east London.
“The Players’ Project means that those of us fortunate enough to wear the claret and blue shirt will always know just how much our community means to everyone at West Ham.”
The scheme kicked off in November 2018 and is already making a real difference to people around the club’s new home, the London Stadium. At Christmas, they teamed up with the homelessness charity Crisis to spread festive cheer at a particularly difficult time of year for those without shelter.
As part of the plan, players from the men’s and women’s squads will be appointed as an ambassador for an area of community work that has personal meaning to them. And they will play a part in delivering the club’s commitment to creating opportunities, delivering a sporting legacy and changing lives in the community.
The initiative has been held up as a shining example by the PFA’s director of corporate social responsibility, John Hudson. He said: “West Ham United should be applauded for their strategic approach to the Players’ Project, which will engage all players within the club, from the U18s right through to the senior squads, into meaningful and important areas of community work.
“There is no doubt that our members will have a huge and positive impact on the various individuals and organisations that will be part of this innovative and exciting programme”
Buy-in from players and a willingness to reach out to the fans will be key to the success of the project. But it will take a serious sum of money to ensure the goals are deliverable.
The club have already invested almost £13m directly across education, health and social mobility projects since 2013 in the London Borough of Newham and surrounding Olympic boroughs and Essex.
Now West Ham United’s community work will help to provide local projects with £10m of funding over the next three years. The aim is to further expand the club’s reach and create deeper provision within their more deprived communities.
Using the Power of Sport
Speaking at the launch of the new scheme, West Ham United vice chairman Karren Brady said: “The Players’ Project demonstrates our commitment to the community and runs right through the club’s DNA – from top to bottom, playing and non-playing staff alike.
“Our focus is on using the power of sport to improve social integration, help people overcome barriers and motivate, educate and inspire people in the local community. This ambitious project will see our players acting as ambassadors for a key area of our community outreach, using the power of football to create life-changing experiences that bring hope, inspire change and deliver opportunities.
“The club’s support for local communities can be seen by the sheer scale and scope of our programmes. On top of our outstanding football development programmes, we work on a broad range of initiatives focusing on employment, education, social deprivation, crime reduction, youth offending and much more.
“I am very proud of what we are launching today to show that West Ham United embodies the heart of the communities of London.”
How It Works
West Ham have launched a community hub on their website to help people find out more about what’s on offer from the players project.
The 11 themes the scheme will address are equality, learning, jobs, loneliness, poverty, participation in sport, health, youth, sporting excellence, coaching, and accessibility.
It is hoped that 100,000 people will benefit from the project over the next three years. And the club aims to fundamentally change the lives of 10,000 people.
With the support of players in raising awareness and engaging with the programmes there will be a series of interventions with measurable outcomes. They can be relatively simple actions, such as having a cup of coffee with someone who wants some company, up to major employment projects to help the thousands of unemployed people in local communities get back into work.
West Ham say they are dedicated to delivering innovative, inspiring and impactful programmes in a way that provides immediate and long-term benefit and support to those that the club reaches.
More often than not this will have a sporting angle, as the club embraces and delivers the sporting legacy after the Olympics that is part and parcel of their occupancy of the centrepiece stadium of the 2012 games.
We believe that members are privileged to play the beautiful game and to connect with the club’s fanbase. By encouraging community projects, they also strengthen the support the club receives locally.
If you are interested in getting involved with your community, contact our Community Department to find out how we can help: 0161 236 0637.