West Ham United Foundation worked throughout the festive period to spread some Christmas cheer amongst the homeless, via a national scheme supported by joint-chairman David Sullivan.
Across London, the Foundation were part of a team which also included representatives from Millwall and Arsenal, delivering football sessions to local homeless people within the club’s communities. Thanks to Mr Sullivan’s generous donation for a third consecutive year, in addition to football coaching the Foundation have been able to provide participants with head-to-toe Hammers kit, which will be vital in helping to keep warm in the coming months.
The week of activities over the Christmas week came to a conclusion at the Arsenal Hub, where all of the London teams came together to compete in a football tournament that saw West Ham United crowned winners. There was an added touch of magic to the day, as the tournament was watched by comedian Jack Whitehall, who posed for photos with the participants.
The Crisis at Christmas scheme is vital to offering local homeless people some respite over the festive period, with hot food and access to healthcare also among the provisions on offer. The scheme offers companionship and support to tackle loneliness and isolation, helping people to take their first steps out of homelessness.
Speaking of his backing, David Sullivan said: “I am extremely proud to be supporting the Crisis at Christmas initiative once again at this special time of year. It is a cause that has become very close to my heart and I’d like to thank our dedicated Foundation staff for all their hard work over the Christmas period.
“At West Ham United, we greatly value the special relationship we have with our local community. Our first team players have already visited children at the Richard House Hospice and local hospitals in recent weeks, and it is so important that we provide support for those most in need.
“The Crisis at Christmas scheme will make a vital difference to the lives of homeless people who really do need our help, and I look forward to welcoming them all to London Stadium in the New Year.”
With rough sleeping and homelessness on the rise across the country, particularly in London where 8,096 people slept rough in 2015-16 alone – a six per cent rise on 2014-15 – projects like Crisis at Christmas are vital in offering people a place to feel welcome over the festive period.
Ian Richards, Head of Crisis at Christmas, said: “Crisis at Christmas is only made possible by the generosity of our donors, volunteers and partners.
“We would like to thank David Sullivan and the West Ham United Foundation for their unwavering support in recent years.
"Led by West Ham's coaches, guests from our Crisis at Christmas centre in East London have come to dominate the football tournament in recent years. Yet again, 2016 sees the East London Day Centre etched onto the trophy as champions.
"We'd like to congratulate the team of guests, the coaches, and the whole West Ham United Foundation for this fantastic achievement."