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Football Friends

Football Friends brings individuals aged 65 or over together over a shared love of football

"It's been a great chance to re-establish and establish links back to my past. My story is just one of the many that have happened through the Any Old Irons programme and demonstrates how, by bringing people together through the programme, the West Ham Foundation and Friends of the Elderly, together with their support partners, are making a difference to the lives of so many people."

Don, a previous Any Old Irons participant who is now a volunteer

Bringing new friends together

Football Friends is run in partnership with football clubs and their charitable foundations with the support of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and brings individuals aged 65 or over together over a shared love of football.

We are currently running five-week programmes with the West Ham Foundation called Any Old Irons and are just about to start a new programme with the QPR in the Community Trust.

You can sign up to the next programme using the contact details below.

We have previously worked with Reading F.C. and Brentford F.C. (who still run programmes of their own). Contact us if you would like to be put in touch with them.

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Connecting communities

The Any Old Irons programme has already changed the lives of many older people, like Don Adams, from East London who retired  after spending most of his working life at the British Museum. He had been really looking forward to retirement and when it came, he thought he had been enjoying it on the whole, until one day his wife and daughter commented that he hadn’t left the house or spoken to anyone other than the two of them for a few days. Don realised they were right and was shocked at how easily he’d slipped into this routine and become isolated without even noticing.

Don joined us for our first Football Friends programme in March 2015. After joining the programme, he admitted he hadn’t realised how depressed he had become or how little he’d left the house and had started to withdraw. Football Friends motivated him to get out and meet new people. He said: “You hear so many things aimed at ‘senior ladies’ but little for men. It’s a shame – Football Friends has changed my life.”

Football Friends also allowed Don to realise a lifelong dream and step onto the West Ham United pitch. Recalling the day he said: “It was genuinely a lifelong dream to walk onto the pitch, being a West Ham fan all my life. Friends of the Elderly has enabled me to do some amazing things and meet some wonderful people – the work they do to support older people is fantastic.”

Since then, Don has become a valued volunteer at Friends of the Elderly and has been instrumental in making further Football Friends’ programmes a huge success.

Listen to Don’s story on the Friends of the Elderly BBC Radio 4 Appeal.

 

What you will do

You will experience a range of different activities on our Football Friends programmes, many of which have been organised with the input of people who have been on previous programmes who now volunteer with us. Over the five weeks, activities may include a stadium tour, guest speakers from the football club, memorabilia and memory sharing. There is also the chance to use an iPad and learn some new digital skills to help you stay connected with the club and your new friends online. It’s a really friendly and relaxed atmosphere, and we make everyone feel welcome and  among friends.

We often organise events and trips outside of the five weeks to help people stay better connected with each other. Previously, Any Old Irons participants have been able to watch the West Ham Ladies team play and had a tour of Wembley Stadium to celebrate the 1966 World Cup win.

Programme dates

Join us for programmes starting on:

Any Old Irons: Wednesday 17 January 2018 – for five weeks.

QPR in the Community Trust: Tuesday 16 January 2018 – for five weeks.

How to sign up

If you are interested and would like to find out more, please  email hello@fote.org.uk or call us on 0330 332 1110.