Academy of Football supports East London Out Project
West Ham United and the Academy of Football have shown their support for local charity organisation East London Out Project (ELOP) with a donation of equipment towards its summer project for young LGBTQ+ people.
Based in nearby Walthamstow, ELOP was established around 1995 as a grassroots-developed and community-led organisation to promote the mental health, wellbeing, empowerment and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer + (LGBTQ+) communities across the whole of London and the surrounding Essex boroughs.
At no cost, the organisation delivered a learning lunch training to West Ham staff earlier this year to help raise awareness of the issues faced in the workplace by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer + (LGBTQ+) people.
The session, designed to equip staff with the skillset and confidence to respond appropriately in the eventuality a player was planning on coming out or maliciously outed, was part of the Club's wider ongoing efforts to promote equality and diversity, encourage a zero-tolerance environment, and reduce the likelihood of discrimination, harassment, victimisation, and bullying of all LGBTQ+ stakeholders.
As a thank you for the training and to reciprocate that support, West Ham and the Academy donated a plethora of footballing apparatus including balls, goals, pumps and cones, which helped to support ELOP’s summer project for young LGBT young people.
Presented to ELOP by U23s winger Jayden Fevrier and U18s forward Divin Mubama at the Academy’s Chadwell Heath Training Ground, the donation also helped to reinforce the Club’s allyship with LGBT communities and continued to demonstrate the Academy as a safe and welcoming environment for young players to develop.
Ellen Turner-Attwell, Children & Young People’s Worker at ELOP, said: “We’re really rooted in the community, so we love to connect with organisations and we feel very supported by West Ham.
“The Club really kindly donated to us some great equipment for us to use with our youth service and our adults. Our youth service provides LGBT support for young people aged 12-18, and we also offer them access to youth groups, support groups, face-to-face activities and one-to-one mentoring.
“We also have an LGBT counselling service, mental health support and an asylum group, so there’s tonnes of stuff we do to support the LGBT community and it’s always great when we get equipment like this that we can use in our sessions to promote exercise and positive mental health, so it’s brilliant.”
Academy Secretary Trevor Lewin said: “We work quite closely with a project called ELOP, who are based in Walthamstow in East London, which represents the LGBTQ+ community, and they’ve asked us if we can help out with some equipment for their football sessions, which we’ve been delighted to provide.
“We’re fully supportive of those type of projects. We always take part in the Rainbow Laces campaign and the boys and staff in our Academy teams are very mindful of it.
“We had a couple of the young players, Jayden and Divin, out here today to help with the presentation. It’s good to know that it’s something they know all about – they’re aware of what’s going on in our local community – and it’s important to continue that good work.
“We’re so fortunate. I know we say that we have got a fantastic fanbase, but I really truly believe that we have. You go through East London and Essex and there are many, many thousands of supporters from many different backgrounds. It’s so important for us to keep in touch with them and we’re proud to be associated with such organisations.”
For more information on the East London Out Project, please visit the ELOP website.