West Ham United has been central to the east London community for nearly 125 years.
This community-first ethos is in our DNA, having been formed in 1895 to boost morale for the workers at the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company.
Since 1990, West Ham has been providing community outreach, growing each year to accommodate the needs of the community and the people that make it up.
In order to keep up with the ever-changing need, this outreach has had to evolve since its inception, 30 years ago. As such, having moved from an informal outreach team to a strengthened Community Trust Department in 2013, the award-winning West Ham United Foundation was formed two years later in 2015.
The key to growth has been a people-centred approach, investing in people and facilities, developing relationships and networks, producing projects which truly make a difference, uphold core values and importantly a drive for equality.
We are delighted we’re able to motivate and inspire so many through the Players’ Project and our wider outreach and we’re proud of the deep impact we are having as we mark the 30th anniversary
Foundation CEO Joseph Lyons
One of the most notable moments in the organisation’s development was the investment in the state of the art 3G Pitch at the Foundation’s Beckton Hub site. This enabled increased participation opportunities for the community and an increase in project provision, with the pitch almost at 100% capacity.
More than 30 inclusive projects are now being delivered across east London, Essex and internationally, reaching up to 50,000 people annually.
Delivery runs over three areas – Football Development, Community, and Learning – and consists of flagship initiatives including Any Old Irons, Second Chance Academy, Community Hub Schools, Stop the Hate and Coach Education.
Foundation CEO Joseph Lyons shared his experiences and the focus which drives the charity, saying: “When I joined in 2013, I understood that community embodies West Ham and there was an extreme passion to change lives, create opportunities and develop pathways. We had a finite amount of resource and an extraordinary amount to do. Our small team of under 20 was propelled into action with a determination to succeed and establish the framework to begin our journey to the current day.
“Today, we have a vision to harness the power of elite sport to inspire better futures for all, and a diverse workforce of almost 200 who are dedicated to helping our community and they embody our values of; being inclusive, inspiring, collaborating, continuously improving and having integrity.
“Equality is at the forefront of our work. We passionately believe in a culture that embraces diversity and inclusion, with everyone having the same opportunities and freedom regardless of their characteristics or background. This is a responsibility which bears strongly on us and we are proud to promote and uphold as a whole organisation.
“Positively, the Players’ Project, introduced two seasons ago supports our equality work as well as ten other targeted areas of community outreach and it has been a brilliant benefit to all.
“Last week it was showcased at the London Sport Awards, winning the ‘Impact of Elite Sport’ category with recognition of how positive it is that the players throughout the Club are involved and really understand the importance of their engagement with the many programmes, beneficiaries and initiatives run by the Club and Foundation.
“We are delighted we’re able to motivate and inspire so many through the Players’ Project and our wider outreach and we’re proud of the deep impact we are having as we mark the 30th anniversary.
“The recognition should go to our Trustees for driving the Foundation, and the staff, volunteers, apprentices, students, beneficiaries, partners and stakeholders who have been part of the journey so far.
“We know that we are needed more than ever before, and we welcome your support as we continue to progress and focus on serving and uniting our community.”
For more information about West Ham United Foundation and the Players’ Project, visit whufc.com/community