Participants from two Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) older people’s programmes were invited to attend Charlton’s game against Bristol City on Boxing Day.
Members from CACT’s Extra Time Hub, a weekly social group for over 55s, and the Up & At ‘Em programme for over 65s with a mental health diagnosis, enjoyed a traditional Boxing Day meal in the Royal Greenwich Suite at The Valley ahead of the match.
More than 35 participants attended, and the club provided them all with a free hat, gloves and matchday programme.
CACT runs the Up & At ‘Em programme in partnership with Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, who made a donation to cover the costs for the day, and Creative provided the food.
Participants had a special visit from new Executive Chairman Matt Southall, who spent time talking with them and learning more about the programmes CACT runs.
The day was rounded off with three points as Charlton beat Bristol City 3-2.
Matt Southall, Charlton Athletic’s Executive Chairman, said "From the moment we became involved in acquiring the club, we knew the huge importance of its community legacy. To have witnessed first hand so many of the schemes in which the club is a driving force is humbling.
"The connection has always been there. Now it is up to us to strengthen those bonds and make sure Charlton Athletic is at the forefront of the community and represents the community in the best possible fashion."
Carl Krauhaus, CACT’s Head of Early Help & Prevention, explained that “Boxing Day can be a lonely time which could lead to increased feelings of isolation over the festive period. Being able to come to the Valley for a matchday experience including a meal in the lounge will, I’m sure, offer a focal point for people on the day.
“It was brilliant of Matt Southall to visit the participants ahead of the game and engage with them.”
Keith Soper, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust’s Director of Forensic and Prison Services, said “We were delighted to support CACT with the Boxing Day event aimed at bringing together people who otherwise would have been alone and isolated at what, for most people, is the happiest time of the year. I heard firsthand about the real differences our services make to people and the friendships they have made.
"For some it was their first trip to The Valley for a number of years, and it was lovely to spend time speaking about past players and what it was like to attend football then and how much things have changed – mostly for the better! A good day was made all the better by the result.”