West Ham United were proud to play a leading role at the launch of the Premier League and BT disability sport initiative.
Held at the Hammers iconic London Stadium, the new three-year partnership will provide funding to the West Ham United Foundation and other Premier League clubs to create more opportunities through sport for disabled people across England and Wales.
The Club is proud of London Stadium’s legacy as a Paralympic venue and the fact that it has more wheelchair user spaces than any other Premier League stadium, with 253 in total, is testament to West Ham’s continued commitment to accessible football.
In addition to high levels of accessibility inside London Stadium, the Olympic Park offers exceptional facilities for disabled supporters from beginning to end of their match day experience. All the most local DLR, Tube, Overground and National Rail stations are fully accessible and West Ham United has successfully launched a free Shuttle Bus Service between Stratford Station and London Stadium that transports more than 500 disabled supporters every matchday.
West Ham United’s vice-chairmen Karren Brady said: “Our Foundation has already had a hugely positive impact on 1.5 million people and we are always looking for more ways that we can help our local community.
“Across the Club we are very ambitious, and as such our target for the next decade is to help a further one million people.
“We are very proud to have played a key role in the launch of this exciting new initiative, and hosting it at London Stadium, our new home, is the perfect place. Our presence on the Olympic Park has allowed our Foundation to increase its outreach by 300 per cent, which has also added much-needed investment across east London.
“We absolutely appreciate how valuable the role football has in bringing about change in society and, for a long time now, our Foundation has been championed as one of the most proactive and effective organisations in providing opportunities.”
Richard Scudamore, the Premier League’s Executive Chairman concurred, saying: “Premier League clubs already run a wide range of excellent programmes that provide sporting and educational opportunities for disabled people.
“This innovative new partnership means even more will benefit from our clubs’ expertise and the unique attributes that sport delivers, as well as opportunities across all club community areas, from coaching through to employment.”
The launch of the new initiative, which took place on Wednesday 28 September, saw the WHU Foundation showcase an inclusive practice session for both disabled and able-bodied people, including 16 participants from Stepney Green School, accompanied by PE teacher and former Hammer Chris Kinnear.
Additionally, the participants took part in a number of football related activities including power chair football, Down’s syndrome football and visual impairment football as well as a number of programmes aimed to promote awareness for the challenges faced by people with disabilities.
Further good news for the WHU Foundation is the recent recruitment of Senior Inclusion Officer Austin Hughes who is responsible for promoting inclusion and diversity across their work in east London and Essex.
Austin will be working across a number of projects to ensure events are accessible to everyone in the community by delivering workshops for parents, carers and local community projects, he will lead the way in supporting those with Autism, sharing best practice to enable other organisations to cater for people with Special Educational Needs.
For more information on inclusive sessions in your area, email Senior Inclusion Officer Austin Hughes: [email protected]