Ambition, Aspire, Achieve (AAA) provides opportunities for children and young people across east London.
As the Club raises awareness for AAA at Saturday's Premier League match, trustee and former Newham Recorder editor Colin Grainger gives an update on the charity's activities...
When West Ham United kindly allowed us to turn the spotlight on the vital work of our charity Ambition Aspire Achieve (AAA) in February, we were still in the middle of the pandemic and the Hammers were playing behind closed doors.
Life for our areas most vulnerable and at-risk children was still proving to be very challenging.
Fast forward to today and we both have much to be thankful for. West Ham’s season has been remarkable – still chasing success in four competitions. Our charity still has many challenges, and our work will continue to be ongoing, making the best possible difference for the lives of young people in Newham.
Today we thank West Ham for giving us the opportunity to share more about our achievements over the past year.
In April we were dealt a huge challenge when our founder and lifelong Irons fan Kevin Jenkins OBE sadly passed away. It is difficult to find words to express how much he is missed, but the lasting impact he has made to local children, young people and the wider community, in over 40 years of charitable work will continue into the future.
AAA’s Chief Executive Jonny Boux said: “It is now our challenge to honour Kevin’s legacy, and we are determined to build on everything he accomplished – creating and steering and building the charity was one of his proudest achievements. Our work with disadvantaged young people is vital and changing lives. There is so much they can aspire to and what they can achieve is incredible.”
Easter and May half-term delivered busy programmes, providing beneficial experiences for young people and their families. Our clubs re-opened at the Terence Brown Arc in the Park in Canning Town and the Glyn Hopkin Abbey Hub in Stratford, and we reached even more through our daily outreach work across Newham. We organised special Heritage Days as part of Newham Heritage Month, with local schools engaging in a variety of activities focused on the local history of the Royal Docks and the surrounding factories. Kevin always felt it was important to engage and encourage children and young people to learn about Newham’s history.
We had a successful summer with activities delivered daily at our hubs, along with playschemes provided across five local parks. Our various schemes were engaging well over 200 young people every day, at such an important time when our work has been most needed, given the challenges faced by our young people earlier this year.
AAA Operations Manager Paula Blake said: “Our Summer Programme was fully booked and catered for hundreds of young people. There were activities and camping trips, enabling young people to have a summer break who otherwise would not have the opportunity to take part in outdoor activities”.
Our Food Bank, launched last year at the start of the pandemic for individuals and families and continues to run, supporting over 150 people with demand increasing.
In September we were chosen to take part in the BGC Global Charity Day, raising money in memory of the 9/11 tragedy. West Ham United legend and U16 Academy Coach Carlton Cole really did us proud at Canary Wharf. He wowed traders and was applauded off the trading floor after wheeling and dealing for us as an ambassador.
We held a celebration event to mark five years of AAA and pay tribute to Kevin. Various musical and dance performances were given by our groups and various attractions were enjoyed. Those present shared their memories of Kevin. It was a community day to remember with over 800 people attending.
Our most vital project at this time of year is the Christmas Toy Appeal.
Now, amazingly in its 44th year, the appeal, renamed the Kevin Jenkins OBE Newham Christmas Toy Appeal was launched last month by two West Ham fans, best pals Ricky Grover and Quincy The Comedian. The support so far has been brilliant, including the Irons Supporting Foodbanks providing deliveries of football gifts.
If you would like to support the appeal you can buy toys here, drop off toy donations at Terence Brown Arc in the Park, Canning Town, E16 4JT or Gallions Reach Shopping Park, E6 7ER, or donate online here.
The demand for our work continues to increase demonstrating just how vital it is, and your kind support can only help to continue to make a difference for our areas most vulnerable and at-risk children and families.