Colin Grainger

Making a difference, changing lives: Charity’s aims for the next year

Charity Ambition, Aspire, Achieve is now looking forwards to a busy 2023.

It follows the completion of the Kevin Jenkins OBE Newham Christmas Toy Appeal.  It was one of our toughest challenges but we made it a magical Christmas for children who need it most.

It was all thanks to the hard work of staff and volunteers of  AAA – and those in our community and beyond who dug deep during one of the toughest times this country has ever faced really did us proud.

Operations Manager for AAA and Appeal co-ordinator Paula Blake said the campaign, had been “one of the toughest ever.”

She said: “We want to say a huge thank you to everyone involved and thank them for helping us achieve our charity’s core aims – which are making a difference and changing lives. It’s what we exist to do.”

The 45th annual appeal to brighten the lives of children who need it most in Newham reached its target and gifts were distributed to more than 3,300 families whose young ones wake up to gifts on Christmas Day.

The staff and volunteers of our charity surpassed themselves this year and so did everyone involved.

Our Chief Executive Jonny Boux also revealed that we also put together and distributed nearly 200 seasonal food hampers for families in need this year. Again, generously supported by a number of companies and individuals making donations, we were able to deliver the hampers across the borough.

Mr  Boux said: “The requests for help have been higher than ever and the kindness of all the individuals, businesses, schools and community groups has been tremendous.”

The appeal was launched in early November by Viviane Asseyi and Grace Fisk who met youngsters at AAA’s Terence Brown Arc In the Park, Canning Town to launch the appeal. The stars of the FA Women’s Super League met AAA staff and the children who are part of AAA’s group of Santa’s helpers for the appeal, as part of the West Ham United’s Players’ Project, an initiative where Men’s, Women’s and Academy players regularly show their support to causes across the local community.

In the last two weeks of the appeal,  Irons’ star Kurt Zouma and two Academy players Remi Coddington and Will Greenidge, visited the appeal’s toy warehouse to get some frontline action. They brought gifts and volunteered helping pack and sort toys.

  • Hammers’ stars help with the appeal


The staff and trustees at AAA were very saddened to hear of the passing of West Ham joint chairman David Gold AAA has been fortunate to be one of the club’s chosen charities since our inception six years ago and we were honoured to welcome Mr Gold to the official opening of our Terence Brown Arc in the Park, our Canning Town play and youth hub, in 2017. Mr Gold, fellow joint chairman David Sullivan and former chairman Terence Brown and the club have provided amazing support for our work with children and young people over many years and he will be greatly missed.

Hammers made a special tribute to him at the weekend in their match against Everton when they also allowed us to turn the spotlight on our charity in their match day programme.

  • Mr Gold (above) and then Mr Gold with Mr Brown and Mr Sullivan at the re-opening of the Terence Brown Arc In The Park


Though life for our charity still has many challenges, what we are achieving is remarkable.  We have been able to help transform the lives of young people in Newham and East London by building confidence and expanding minds.

In 2022 it was a hugely busy time at our hubs with thousands of local children attending after-school activities delivered throughout the week and at weekends.

There’s our Saturday Cycling Club and Sunday Explorers Club and Saturday Multi-Sports Club providing opportunites for young people including those with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities to try new sports and learn new skills. We’ve also held some brilliant family fun days throughout the year.


  • Cycling at our clubs


Our regular activities and after-school clubs, weekend clubs and family days at the Glyn Hopkin Abbey Hub received a boost this year thanks to funding awarded by corporate partner Bain Capital.

Along with after school clubs and groups, our Abbey Cycles club has also been in demand. We also marked International Women’s Day with a variety of activities.

The main building at the Abbey Hub is also being redeveloped with a grant from the LLDC. And we are excited at the prospect of developing a new outdoor learning facility in woodland space, adjacent to the hub, donated by Thames Water.

Project Spotlight – Moving On and Up, a new employability and personal development protject wa launched for young people aged 14 to 19. Newham Rotary Club helped fund this and now the Lyle Community Fund  will help us expand it.

And the This is Me Project was launched at the Arc In the Park Lodge to meet an identified need for a 11 to 16 year olds to provide support groups for young people who identify as LGBTQ + or who are exploring their gender identity.

Our Annual Sailing Trip was once again brilliant with the Ocean Youth Trust and gave us some wonderfuil feed back about the fun, as well as our young people gaining RYA Start Yachting qualifications.

  • All aboard for sailing and other fun on the water


Our Arc Family Days , with funding from Aspers Good Causes Fund were simply brilliant to see. Over 30 of them. The smiles will remain with us forever.


  • Family fun days


Children in Need have been key supporters of our work, helping us with funding for activities at the Abbey Hub and through their grants programme for our vital Wellbeing Groups, supporting young people,with additional needs.

LEGO, MACE, Thames Water, Chelsfield, Axis, All Funds, Janus Henderson, Clark Electrical, Galleons Reach, Berkely Homes, Burberry, Link City, the Ernest Cook Trust and Sahara Care have been key funders throughout our last 12 months.

In May the exceptional people at Brick Lane Music Hall, Silvertown, led by Vincent Hayes MBE, staged another benefit evening which raised thousands for our vital work.

Our sixth annual Easter Appeal in partnership with the Newham Recorder, raised 2,000 Easter Eggs for vulnerable children. The Bikers who Make a Difference Group arrived in convoy at the Arc, as they did in huge numbers for our Christmas Appeal.

John Ratomski and the Irons Supporting Foodbanks Group and Neil Taylor and the Hammers For Work and Support also made key donations and gave great support to the Easter and Christmas campaigns.

The new All Stars and Dynamo cricket clubs have been established for children at the Glyn Hopkin Abbey Hub, supported by the ECB.

A new weekly youth project Our Minds and Us, aiming to improve young people’s wellbeing and mental health has been established funded by LB Newha’s Living Well with COVID grant scheme.

And there have been been busy summer programme’s at Abbey with holiday activities for children with Special Education Needs.

We now have a growing programme of sports actitives at the Abbey Hub and at the Terence Brown Arc In the Park, with a grant from Sporting England helping the expansion. The aim is to introduce those taking part to ten different new sports, including football, tennis, skateboarding, boxing, running, netball, table tennis, volleyball ,cycling. Fight for Peace support the delivery of boxing sessions.

  • Sporting activities


Our Positive Transitions Project is for young people agred 16 to 25 , offering a support ration of one to four delivering life skills, multi sports and arts and crafts. Healthy eating, cooking and such like. There have been trips out to a variety of places. We delivered our busiest ever summer of universal clubs and playschemes daily and pop up mobile play schemes an outdoor camping programmes. There were a hosting of exciting day trips. And Our Green Influencers Scheme is growing fast as is our Gardening Club.

  • Digging in for fun


Thanks to Val Fone and the Action and Rights of Disabled People in Newham we also now have a new outdoor music area at the Arc. And we are proud to have been a part of the Act As One Partenrship, bringing together grassroots voluntary sector organisations in Newham focusing on improving youth safety. Led by Fight for Peace, we have been working with Rights & Equalities in Newham and the Exit Foundation.

During 2023, Mr Boux said we want to make significant developments for our delivery hubs, including the planned opening of our new outdoor activity and adventure space, Abbey Hub Woodland, and improvements to existing green spaces/buildings at both hubs to offer better facilities for local children and young people we support.

We want to develop and grow existing and new delivery programmes supporting vulnerable children and young people, including early intervention and transition work at key transition points from primary to secondary school.

We will aim to give tailored support for young people involved in or at risk of becoming involved in gangs and/or serious youth violence and personal development programmes for young people to successfully transition and succeed in college, employment and apprenticeships.

We want to provide a wider range of fun, engaging activities and opportunities that broaden horizons including a wider programme of multi-sports, music and arts themed activities and more outdoor or outward bound experiences like camping trips, rock climbing experiences, and sailing trips… for young people who otherwise would not have benefited from such experiences/opportunities.

There are plans to grow our timetable of targeted after school youth clubs and holiday activities for young people with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities and additional needs. And reaching new young people who most need our support in the borough, by providing wider coverage of daily detached outreach street-work sessions and in school sessions, is on our agenda.

Added Mr Boux: “The last year has been so challenging for many. But has enough been done though, to highlight the impact this is having on low-income families and the rising pressures they face? The cost-of-living crisis is really biting.

“Newham has among the highest child poverty rates in the country, and over half the borough’s children now reside in low-income households, living the daily grind of poverty.

“The problem will get significantly worse. We witnessed the challenge first-hand during the lead up to Christmas. Demand exceeded our capacity.

“Three years ago, our founder, the late Kevin Jenkins OBE, called for a Newham Child Poverty Summit, to drive greater focus on the issue and joined up support for those families most in need. That call has even more resonance today. Recent initiatives such as the Newham Cost of Living Crisis summit are welcome, but much more must be done, particularly to help bring together all the providers and agencies working in this space, to foster effective collaboration.”


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By Colin Grainger, journalist, former Newham Recorder Editor and AAA trustee

Pictures: Colin Grainger/Lucy Jenkins/ AAA


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