'Everyone is part of society': Homeless people invited to West Ham match
PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:55 03 January 2020
Homeless people were treated to a day out at the London Stadium as West Ham sought to spread some festive cheer.
The Hammers teamed up with homelessness charity Crisis to invite the special guests to the game against Leicester City, allowing them to enjoy the match, a meal and a pitch-side tour.
The visit was organised through the Players' Project initiative, which sees players become an ambassador for an area of community work.
Mark Noble, the club's ambassador for tackling poverty, said: "If you're in a privileged position like I am, or a lot of people are, you don't realise what this means to other people.
"Hopefully just a little bit of my time and everyone else's time makes someone's Christmas."
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Captain Noble's counterpart in the women's team, Gilly Flaherty, was also keen to support Crisis, collecting donations from other players, backroom staff and supporters in addition to making her own contribution.
She said: "Unfortunately, homelessness is a continuing issue in our area and as a club we love doing what we can to make a difference, particularly at this time of year."
Crisis sets up centres across the country to provide food, warmth and vital services to more than 4,000 homeless people during the Christmas week. It also runs year-round centres which offer support with housing, employment and wellbeing.
West Ham joint chairman David Sullivan, who made a personal donation to the charity, said: "Crisis is a cause that is really close to my heart and I'm very proud to be able to support it once again."
Ian Richards, who runs Crisis at Christmas, said: "For people experiencing homelessness life is difficult on a daily basis and for many the festive period can be a particularly difficult time.
"Many people we work with tell us that loneliness and isolation are just as difficult as the physical hardships of homelessness.
"We are very grateful for the support from West Ham's Players' Project and showing that everyone is part of society."