West Ham launch Sporting Stories project

West Ham chairman David Gold, centre, at the Sporting Stories launch

West Ham chairman David Gold, centre, at the Sporting Stories launch - Credit: Tal Donahue

It might not have been match day, but football was in the air at the Boleyn Ground at the launch of a new social initiative on Tuesday.

West Ham United Foundation teamed up with Friends of the Elderly and Barclays Digital Eagles to address the issue of loneliness among older people by launching the Sporting Stories programme.

With a significant increase in the number of men living alone in old age - a figure that is estimated to rise by 65 per cent in the next 15 years to 1.5million - the club opened the inaugural event up to 50 people aged 65 or over.

It gave participants a chance to meet and discuss football, as well as other issues, and they could also sign up to a five week follow-on programme.

Hammers’ joint chairman, David Gold, came to meet those taking partand share his own sporting stories.

Joseph Lyons, the chief executive of West Ham United Foundation, said: “We’re really excited about this new initiative. West Ham has always been a family club, but this really goes beyond partisan support and reaches out to those who just love the game.

“Often the over 65s can become isolated, but they will always be a central part of our football community and we hope Sporting Stories will ensure that no-one is left on the touchline.”

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The follow-on programme will see Barclays Digital Eagles explain how to use technology to stay connected and capture their sporting memories, producing a film that will be screened for family and friends.