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Saturday 04 January 2014

Arsenal Foundation receives funding boost

More than £220,000 raised by Arsenal staff and fans to aid the club's charitable arm

  • More than £220,000 was raised on the Arsenal-Everton matchday

  • Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker recently visited a project helped by the Foundation

  • The project works with Freedom from Torture to help people who have come to the UK

The Arsenal Foundation has benefited to the tune of more than £220,000 thanks to the efforts of the Arsenal players and fans.

Arsenal’s Barclays Premier League match against Everton on 8 December raised a record-breaking total for club’s charitable arm. The final sum of £226,637 will help Arsenal continue supporting many projects in the UK and overseas that enable young people to fulfil their potential.

As well as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and his first-team squad donating a day’s wages to the Foundation, the club’s supporters contributed to collections around and inside the stadium. The fans also helped by buying the special-edition official matchday programme, which featured four different covers and of which 50p from every one sold was donated to the Foundation.

"Football helps in multiple ways - it’s positive for both the body and the mind”
Selcuk Berilgen

One project supported with a donation from The Arsenal Foundation is at Elthorne Park, in nearby Islington, where Arsenal in the Community and the charity Freedom from Torture work together to use the power of football to help survivors of torture.

The project started by teaching languages to a group of people who come from countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey, Sierra Leone, Iran, Ivory Coast, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

The project has helped to develop confidence and social skills among the participants and has expanded to include football sessions for 10-15 people who meet once a week for training in Elthorne Park.

Before the Everton match, Arsenal first-team players Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil, went to see the project in action.

"I don't know what these guys have experienced and it's not for me to say, but what I do know is how bright their eyes were when we were playing," Mertesacker said after joining in on a kickabout with the group. "That's what's important here.  This is what we can do.  We can make a meaningful difference."

Selcuk Berilgen, Freedom from Torture group therapist, hailed the project’s impact. "The change [in the participants] has been visible from the word go,” Berilgen said. “The group is supportive of one another - there are partnerships, friendships, team work and togetherness. Football helps in multiple ways - it’s positive for both the body and the mind.”

To date, the Foundation has committed more than £1 million to a number of projects that are directly supporting more than 100,000 people. Initiatives to benefit range from football pitch upgrades in the local boroughs of Camden, Hackney and Islington, to large-scale education projects in China and Indonesia, through the Club’s global charity partnership with Save the Children.

People can still make a donation to The Arsenal Foundation by visiting www.justgiving.com/thearsenalfoundation or by texting AFCF12 plus the amount (eg £2) to 70070.

VIDEO: To see a video of Ozil and Mertesacker's visit to the project click HERE

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Key Points

  • Arsenal Foundation has benefited to the tune of more than £220,000 thanks to Arsenal players and fans
  • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and his first-team squad donated a day’s wages to the Foundation
  • Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil went to see one project that is helped by the Foundation in action