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London United: Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham among 16 club foundations celebrating decade of social work

Carlton Cole (second left) and Per Mertesacker (second right) among ex-footballers at London United’s anniversary event on Tuesday (David Fletcher at West Ham United Foundation)
Carlton Cole (second left) and Per Mertesacker (second right) among ex-footballers at London United’s anniversary event on Tuesday (David Fletcher at West Ham United Foundation)

The community organisations of 16 professional football clubs in London celebrated on Tuesday a decade of work tackling social issues in the capital.

Ex-players such as Per Mertesacker, Mark Bright and Carlton Cole were in attendance at Speakers’ House in Westminster on September 12, at an event supported by the Premier League and opened by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

Founded in 2013, ‘London United’ has spent ten years working in local communities in the London area, funded and aided by the community trusts or foundations of 16 London football clubs.

The organisation says its work has evolved “from services purely delivering regular free football to include holiday activities for those with food insecurity, support across health and social care, disability specific provision and education, training and employment opportunities.”

Lib Peck (right), director of the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit (Be Inspired Media)
Lib Peck (right), director of the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit (Be Inspired Media)

London United’s annual report revealed they invested £30million into London’s economy during the 2021/22 season, as well as delivering 450 programmes and partnering with more than 1,300 schools and colleges in the same period.

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Programmes in its first decade have included mental health support provision through partnerships with the NHS, as well as programmes to increase participation in sport among girls and people from disadvantaged backgrounds through alliances with the London Marathon Foundation and Wembley Stadium National Trust.

Freddie Hudson, chair of London United and head of Arsenal in the Community, said: “This work is tough and challenging. We couldn’t attempt to do it on our own — we need the partnerships to overcome some of the challenges that Londoners are facing.”

Lib Peck, director of the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), added: Lib Peck “It’s been great that we’ve been able to work with local clubs at a time where institutions are struggling for credibility. Football cuts through that.”

London United’s 16 professional football club members are Arsenal, Barnet, Brentford, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Dagenham and Redbridge, Fulham, Leyton Orient, Millwall, Queens Park Rangers, Sutton United, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Ham United and AFC Wimbledon.