MPs hail West Ham United Foundation

Parliament played host to a reception to mark the 25th anniversary of the West Ham United Foundation's work in East London and Essex
The West Ham United Foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary in style on Monday with a special reception in the Houses of Parliament.

As the Foundation gets ready for a major expansion of its work when West Ham moves to the Club's magnificent new Stadium in Stratford next year, the reception was attended by MPs, local councillors, and leading figures from the worlds of football and business, all keen to lend their support.

Among the attendees was the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt. Hon John Whittingdale. He wished West Ham well in continuing and expanding the life changing work of the Foundation following the Stadium move.

Stephen Timms, the MP whose East Ham seat includes the Boleyn Ground, acted as host of the reception, and gave the assembled gathering the benefit of his first-hand experience of the Foundation's work:

“West Ham has long been a very powerful presence at the heart of our community", he said, "right in the centre of the Borough of Newham. The Foundation plays a very full role in partnership with lots of other local organisations in the interests of the local community.

“It is a very wide-ranging programme that the Foundation has at West Ham, it's an ambitious programme and one which does a lot of very valuable work in our local area.”

Many other prominent Hammers fans in the House of Commons were also in attendance, including David Amess, Jim Fitzpatrick and Mike Gapes. Also present were Essex MP, Rebecca Harris, and the Treasurer of the all-party Parliamentary Football Group, Chris Heaton-Harris.

They were joined by West Ham's Joint-Chairman, David Gold, the Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Newham, Lester Hudson, and the Premier League's Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, as well as representatives of dozens of charities, schools and community groups who have received support from the Foundation over recent years.
West Ham United has long been a very powerful presence at the heart of our community.
The Chief Executive of the Foundation, Joseph Lyons, introduced the attendees to four young people from the East London and Essex area whose lives have been transformed as a result of the Foundation's work.

"Over the next decade", he said, "we will work tirelessly to create more of these stories.

"Today, we are outlining our new 10 year strategy which redefines our vision. We want to be a truly inclusive organisation offering a range of programmes that provide positive experiences to all."

Mr Lyons set out the Foundation's priorities and goals for the next decade, including expanding its work across all of Essex, establishing international programmes, creating pathways to education and work for young people in the region, and using sport as a motivator for social change.

He said that, in the space of 25 years, the Foundation had provided support and opportunities to 1.5 million young people and adults, but it planned to reach a further 1 million people in the next 10 years alone.

West Ham Vice-Chairman Karren Brady, who has masterminded the expansion of the Foundation's work since arriving at the Club in 2010, explained to the reception why the West Ham board believe it is so important to support the Club's local communities.

"When my two Chairmen, David Sullivan and David Gold, and I began our work at West Ham", she said, "one of our first priorities was to expand the work the Club had been doing to create better futures for local people.

"My Chairmen both originated from the area and...with their passion for giving something back to their local community and my determination to use sport to better the lives of its people, it quickly became something that was incredibly important to all three of us.

"We made sure the Foundation became the hub to deliver the Club’s vision for outreach, benefitting the charities we feel most passionate about and most importantly giving brighter futures for the most deprived people in our community.

"We now have some remarkable stories to tell of the lives we’ve changed and an exciting, ambitious vision for the future, as we prepare to take up residence in our new home."

The event ended with MPs presenting the Foundation with a special birthday card signed by all those in attendance. The message inside read: "Congratulations on 25 years of life-changing community work and long may it continue in your new home."

To read more about the Foundation's work, click here. And to make sure you are present when the Club moves into its magnificent new home next year, be sure to join the New Stadium Priority List as soon as possible.