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1 March, 2024
News Story

West Ham’s Johnson pays special visit to Your Place

West Ham player Ben Johnson signing a football shirt

Irons defender Ben Johnson lit up a Friday afternoon for residents of Your Place when he paid us a special visit as part of the Club’s Players’ Project.

Since the launch of the Players’ Project in 2018, West Ham United has been working to support local individuals, services and communities in a variety of ways – from providing food parcels and essential items, to offering CV advice and organising visits and calls from the Club’s players and ambassadors.

Your Place – previously known as Caritas Anchor House – is a Canning Town-based charity dedicated to solving homelessness in east London. We offer accommodation and a range of services to 155 people at any one time with the aim of helping them move on to their next chapters.

Upon his arrival at the charity, Johnson engaged in a popular meet and greet with residents and staff, before being taken on a tour of the building’s ground level which opened his eyes to the valuable contribution Your Place makes to the local community.

“It’s been a really good day, I’ve learnt a lot, and it’s something I won’t forget,” the 24-year-old said. “Homelessness is an issue that my partner and I feel particularly strongly about, and charities like Your Place are doing brilliant work to help change things.

“It’s a lovely, colourful space here, with room for everyone which is really important. There are lots of facilities such as an IT suite, a laundrette and a common room as well as the residents’ rooms themselves. There are strong tools here to help the residents work towards their next step, and that’s what it’s all about.

“It was great to be shown around by some of the residents, and hear their stories. I’ve learnt a lot about their fortitude, and many of them are big West Ham fans so it was good to listen to tales they had about following the team.

“Their support shows how the Club can bring people together, and it’s so important that we keep supporting initiatives like this to keep spreading the word. Football continues to be powerful off the pitch as well as on it, and it makes me proud that West Ham continues to back charities like Your Place, that make such a big difference to the lives of local people.”

Maria has been a resident at Your Place since 2021, and is a keen Hammer having previously played football for Redbridge FC.

While Maria was keen to highlight the impact of the charity’s work on her life, as well as the significance of Johnson’s visit, Your Place CEO Amanda Dubarry agreed with the Irons’ No2 about the importance of West Ham’s support over recent years.

Maria said, “I’ve been on the streets and I’ve done sofa surfing, but being at Your Place just gives you that bit of independence and stability.

“It gives you a bit of a step up, and I’ve been able to sort out some of the issues I’ve had and start looking forward. I’m into my art and I’d like to do the next stage of my health and social care studies, in order to eventually get a job caring for older people.

“Football has helped me get through some tough times in the past, and I used to love playing the game. It was wicked to meet Ben – it was really nice for him to give up his time for us, and it really lifted all of our spirits.”

Dubarry added, “West Ham have long been big supporters of our work. They’ve previously hosted a Homeless Support Day at London Stadium, and donated essential items and sanitary products to help combat period poverty among other things.

“All charities need that support network and that visibility, and while West Ham continue to help with that, visits such as Ben’s make a huge difference to the people who we’re here to help.

“A lot of it is about them feeling valued and part of the community, and there were definitely lots of smiles and laughs when he was in the building, which was great.”

Your Place recognises that each individual’s journey is different, and so the support provided is personalised too, to meet each person’s unique needs, goals and aspirations. Services on offer relate to health and wellbeing, education and training, employability, financial literacy, life skills and support to secure and sustain tenancies beyond life at Your Place.

To find out more, please browse our website or to make a donation click here.
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