Patrick Viera with a Crystal Palace fan

Palace for Life Foundation to change lives with Made in South London campaign

The official charity of Crystal Palace FC launched its Made in South London campaign in April, with the aim of raising £1m over the next three years to help the most disadvantaged young people in south London.

The Palace for Life Foundation has supported the south London community for over 25 years, using sport to change young people’s lives and as we move out of the pandemic, it’s vital that south London’s young people continue to be supported. 

In 2021 alone 30 children were killed, including five in Croydon, whilst knife crime across London rose by 60% over the last four years.

Palace for Life Foundation CEO Mike Summers said: “A lot of young people grow up nervous, scared, not happy to walk from one end of the borough to the other because of fear of getting attacked, so it’s a pretty scary time for young people for lots of reasons.

“Where we come in is running activities that make a difference, like our Premier League Kicks programme that gives young people in some of the most deprived parts of south London the opportunity to play football or other sports at no cost and in the process getting to meet new friends and come in contact with positive role models.”

South London has been a hot bed for talent with Premier League footballers Wilfried Zaha, Jadon Sancho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Declan Rice and Emile Smith Rowe just a handful of names to have come from the area. 

Summers said: “As a foundation, our purpose is to help young south Londoners grow through sport.

“Our whole raison d’etre is supporting local young people and we have been doing that on different scales for the last 25-30 years, growing gradually over that period of time.

“We like all of the other London clubs, Premier League clubs and EFL clubs, run programmes on a similar basis working with young people from the most deprived areas giving them a bit of extra help in life.”

The Foundation is well supported within the community and one of their biggest supporters is Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira.

Summers said: “One of the greatest supporters of our cause is Patrick Vieira himself, a great example of something Patrick did is we have a Down’s syndrome football team and last summer Patrick invited them to come and play alongside the first team players.

“Stories like that make such an immense difference to the lives of people who are totally inspired by the likes of Patrick and the Palace players.

“Someone told me recently that after Covid every young person now has an adverse childhood experience (ACE) so there isn’t a child in the country or the world probably that doesn’t have certain scarring from the pandemic. 

“Being forced to stay at home, not meeting with their friends, possibly having illness or bereavement in their family, that has a massive impact on young peoples mental health and we are still seeing that.”

However, over the past three years, the foundation have supported over 40,000 children and young people in schools and the community.

They have delivered free weekly sports sessions at 30 different venues across south London and provided mentoring to 400 young people who had been excluded from school or been involved in crime or gangs. 

Summers added: “Back in the day it would have been a couple of football coaches with a string bag of footballs over their shoulder going into a park and kicking a football around.

“Now we have got a team of 50 full time staff, a further pool of 50 or more sessional coaches, so its a significant change.” 

The ambitious target of £1m will help the foundation scale up existing projects, help reduce violence, increase employment and give people of south London brighter futures. 

Summers said: “It’s all about scaling up programmes that are already working and already reaping dividends but we are looking to grow them to reach more young people because we are only touching the tip of the iceberg.

“There’s an increasing number of young people that need extra help and extra support.”

Summers added this is the first real flagship fundraising campaign and it brings lots of fundraising activities together.

For example, there’s a two day bike ride from Selhurst Park to Aston Villa coming up in early March, followed by the flagship annual Palace for Life marathon march, a 26.2 mile walk starting and ending at Selhurst Park.

To date £278,105 of the £1m has been raised. 

To donate to the campaign click here.

Featured image credit: Palace For Life Foundation

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