Celtic FC Foundation’s three-year development programme in East London

CHARLIE Mulgrew as on hand at the Houses of Parliament in London as Celtic FC Foundation, announced a three-year charitable sports programme in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund, 5 Star Active and Poplar HARCA which echoes the work of Brother Walfrid in East London.

When Brother Walfrid founded Celtic he said: “A football club will be formed for the maintenance of dinner tables for the children and unemployed” and when his work in the East End of Glasgow was finished, he moved to the East End of London, arriving as Headmaster of St. Anne’s School, Whitechapel in 1893.

Along with Tony Hamilton, CEO, Celtic FC Foundation and Jim Fitzpatrick MP for Poplar and Limehouse, the Celtic defender retraced Brother Walfrid’s steps and visited Parliament to launch this latest initiative which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s ‘Reaching Communities’ fund.

The programme sees the club return to Walfrid’s early days, this time in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to deliver a 48-week-a-year programme of sports, arts and youth work activities engaging young people at risk, or involved with, the criminal justice system, gangs or anti-social behaviour.

The trio officially launched the programme at the Houses of Parliament by presenting certificates to young people from Tower Hamlets who have already graduated with accreditations from the 5 Star Active Youth Leadership Programme.

The group then move on to East London where Charlie welcomed local young people at ‘Spotlight’ – an ultra-modern, multi-million pound leading creative youth destination in Poplar and the hub of ‘Breaking Barriers’ – before putting them through their paces on the football pitch.

‘Breaking Barriers’ will also feature monthly personal and social development workshops to develop young people into becoming leaders and positive role models within their own communities, localised festivals and progression pathways into accredited training, education and volunteering.

5 Star Active is a formal network of sport for development charities led by Active Communities Network, who, along with Celtic FC Foundation, have worked on a number of pilot summer sports and community-based weekly engagement programmes in East London over the past two years.

These have allowed young people to learn about the history of Celtic and receive high-quality coaching from Celtic-inducted coaches with Tony Hamilton also visiting St. Anne’s School in Whitechapel.

This long-term partnership has led to the newly-secured Big Lottery Fund money and ‘Breaking Barriers’ announcement, with Poplar HARCA providing ‘Spotlight’ for session delivery and the Metropolitan Police and Tower Hamlets Council adding additional support.

Jim Fitzpatrick said:  “I was born and raised a Celtic fan in Glasgow so it gives me a great personal pleasure to host this event – but this pleasure is not just on a personal level.

“From a constituency point of view, we are welcoming one of the world’s biggest sports institutions to Poplar and Limehouse to inspire young people to lead fulfilling, healthy and positive lives.

“Celtic FC Foundation have made a long-term commitment to Tower Hamlets, working with Active Communities Network in East London over recent years to identify key partners who can work in partnership to deliver the programme with them.

“Poplar HARCA are one such partner and form a strong part of our community. Along with support from the Metropolitan Police and Tower Hamlets council they will all ensure the programme can maximise its potential and effect on the young people it works with.”

Tony Hamilton, added: “I’d like to thank the Big Lottery Fund in England for believing in Celtic FC Foundation and for the support we have had from the City.

“Our efforts in London are not a new phenomenon as over the past three years we have worked closely with Active Communities Network to make a significant difference to hundreds of young people’s lives.

“Breaking Barriers allow us to develop that work and take us to the next level.  Inclusion is synonymous with Celtic FC – we are a club open to all – and we will bring that message and practical support as we break down barriers in the East End of London to make a genuine difference.

“We intend to demonstrate that in London over the next three years. The Celtic story is an interesting one; formed because there was a need in the East End of Glasgow – that need has evolved but still exists today, in London and in so many inner cities across the UK and Ireland.

“Brother Walfrid founded Celtic in Glasgow and spent his final days making a difference at St Anne’s in Whitechapel, we are merely following in his footsteps and continuing his good work.”