Foundation continues Brother Walfrid’s legacy in East London

THIS week marks 130 years since Brother Walfrid established Celtic Football Club, and to honour the occasion, we take a closer look at another remnant of our founder’s legacy – Breaking Barriers in East London.

In 1893, Brother Walfrid, departed one city’s East End for another as his Marist calling took him from Glasgow to the London borough of Tower Hamlets. In 19th century Whitechapel, Brother Walfrid’s purpose – as it had been in Glasgow – was to alleviate the horrors of destitution, want and squalor.

Now, in the 21st century, Celtic FC Foundation proudly continues Brother Walfrid’s legacy through our Breaking Barriers project.

Established in 2014 following a series of pilot projects, Breaking Barriers is delivered in partnership alongside Active Communities Network and Poplar HARCA, with funding made available from the Big Lottery Fund England.

Considered to be the most deprived region in London, Tower Hamlets’ residents are afflicted by entrenched socio-economic disadvantage, unemployment and health inequality, with the area having the lowest life expectancy of any London borough. Compounding this, Tower Hamlets is paralysed by high crime and gang violence, contributing to cyclical patterns of poverty and communal unrest. 

Celtic FC Foundation’s Breaking Barriers project works to combat problems in the community by delivering practical elements designed to foster social change. Throughout the year, Breaking Barriers offers a robust activity programme of sports and arts for young people.

Aiming to promote tolerance and integration within at-risk communities, a key priority for the project is to deliver sporting and recreational activities which bring young people together and encourage positive behaviours.

Promoting this ideal, Breaking Barriers recently hosted a friendly match in the borough, pitting young project participants from Tower Hamlets against their counterparts from South London. In a lively encounter, South London ran out 6-3 winners, with both teams displaying sportsmanship and professionalism throughout.  

Played with a spirit of friendship and unity, the success of the fixture underlined the progress of Breaking Barriers’ young people, demonstrating their marked leaps in maturity, respect and personal development.

Speaking on the success of Breaking Barriers, Celtic FC Foundation Chief Executive, Tony Hamilton, said: “I’d like to thank Active Communities Network, Poplar HARCA and the Big Lottery Fund in England for their continued support and input into this hugely worthwhile initiative.

“Recent developments, like the East versus South London friendly match, typify the core essence of our Breaking Barriers project and we’ve made tremendous progress since the concept was first established. To date, the project has worked with 650 young people across Tower Hamlets, positively impacting upon the lives of individuals in the borough and beyond.

“As in Glasgow, Brother Walfrid’s legacy is alive and well in East London.”