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How clubs are helping tackle social isolation

21 Jun 2019
Any Old Irons, Mark Noble, West Ham United

To mark Loneliness Awareness Week, see how West Ham, Wolves and Everton are engaging those who are feeling disconnected from society

Loneliness Awareness Week between 17 and 21 June aims to raise the awareness of, and reduce the stigma that surrounds, loneliness and social isolation.

Premier League clubs run various programmes offering support to people in their local communities who are at risk of feeling disconnected and isolated.

We look at three such projects, which have received support from the Premier League Professional Footballers' Association Community Fund (PLPFA).

Any Old Irons

Since 2016, the West Ham United Foundation has been running Any Old Irons in partnership with Friends of the Elderly.

It is aimed at over-65s in east London and Essex, bringing them together for fun and friendship as well as giving them the opportunity to learn new skills such as digital technology.

In just three years, the programme has grown to include more than 250 members.

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"I hadn't been going out or socialising," said Don Adams, who is now a volunteer on the project. "It was an ideal opportunity for me to get out and meet people.

"Many of us are in similar positions: we've either lost partners, suffered with ill health or we're happily retired. You won't be on your own; you'll be welcomed into the group."

Wolves' Head 4 Health

Wolverhampton Wanderers Foundation launched its Head 4 Health scheme this year. With the help of PLPFA funding it offers physical activity sessions and workshops on mental health and coping with stress.

Rachel Smith, the Foundation's senior health officer says the first participants have enjoyed the sessions.

"They have told us how the programme has improved their mental and physical wellbeing and that they feel more able to share their feelings and talk about the issues they are facing," Smith told Wolves' official website.

Everton's Stand Together

For the last three years, Stand Together, run by Everton in the Community, is giving older people in the city of Liverpool chances to socialise, visit local areas of interest, as well as talk about their memories of Everton with the help of club memorabilia. 

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"There's just so much going on for us," said Pat Roberts, who started going when her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

"The people that we've met there, we're all in the same boat and we're all there for one another."

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