Housing

West Ham open doors of London Stadium to people experiencing homelessness

"I’ve always had a good support network around me but some people might not have that.”

Ex West Ham Player Carlton Cole with a guest. Image: West Ham United Foundation

Premier League team West Ham opened their doors to homeless people offering them clothing, haircuts, a hot pie and mash lunch and even a Hammers claret and sky blue scarf.

The vital services, which also included oral health checks and banking support, were provided to homeless people from east London inside the team’s iconic London Stadium.

The annual event had to be paused for two years due to the pandemic, but restarted with 60 guests this week.

David, who has been homeless in London for 15 years but recently received accommodation in nearby Canning Town, described the day as “absolutely brilliant”.

“Clubs like this actually do care about the homeless and put on events like this,” he said. “They should do more of them.” 

Women’s forward Claudia Walker and former strikers Carlton Cole and Marlon Harewood chatted with guests and helped to distribute clothing donated by the teams. 

A good trim delivered by Haircuts 4 Homeless. Image: West Ham United Foundation

Describing the day as a “rewarding experience”, Cole said he enjoyed hearing people’s stories and trying to “give them a little bit of light and positivity.”

“To give the homeless an opportunity to have their hair cut, to visit the mobile dentist and to take some clothes donated by the club has been brilliant to see,” he continued. 

Cole’s own mother and uncle were homeless when they first moved to London, and he described how peoples’ perceptions of homelessness are so often different to the realities. 

He added: ​​“When people think about homeless people, they think of someone in the street under a bridge but there’s more to it than that. There are people that just have unforeseen circumstances.

“I’ve had ups and downs in my life and with the flick of a switch things can go wrong for you. I’ve always had a good support network around me but some people might not have that.”

Clothing donated by players from all the West Ham teams. Image: West Ham Foundation

Homeless charities including NEWway Project, Single Homeless Project, Catch 22, Whitechapel Mission, St Mungo’s and Caritas Anchor House supported West Ham Foundation to run the event. 

Joseph Lyons, CEO of the foundation said the day was “game-changing” for the club, allowing it to “focus on specific areas like poverty, equality, employment opportunities and make a significant, long-lasting difference.” 

“Days like today help to open our eyes a little bit,” he said. “They help us to ask more questions and to have more conversations about how we can continue to make a positive impact on our community.”

A guest tucks in to pie and mash. Image: West Ham Foundation
West Ham kits for all. Image: West Ham Foundation

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