How Arsenal’s community work kept fans connected during the pandemic


reddie Hudson, head of Arsenal in the Community, can still remember the exact moment the Covid-19 pandemic brought the club’s community work to a grinding halt last year.

It was Monday, March 16 and Arsenal’s army of community workers were out and about that morning ready to get to work, as always.

That quickly changed, however, as it became clear that one of the community partners from the mental health trust had tested positive for Covid-19. Suddenly operations were being shut down and Hudson can remember calling staff, who were literally about to go into schools and prisons to run workshops, to tell them to stand down.

Within the hour, Arsenal’s community hub – which is located at Emirates Stadium – was evacuated and the question on everyone’s lips then was: ‘What next’?

Arsenal FC via Getty Images

“The community work in normal time can present challenges, but you know what you are getting,” Hudson tells Standard Sport. “This just came out of the blue. It was unexpected.

“Normal life for community staff came to a grinding halt. I am really proud of our staff, across the club, in how they came up with ideas and offered their services. 

“I have to say from the very senior level at the club, it was an open door. They were saying: ‘Look, find out what we can do and let’s see how we can support’”.

Arsenal’s community team quickly regrouped after lockdown set in across the country, working out how they could continue to help.

Dialogue was opened with Islington Council, who explained that help with food donations would be crucial in the current climate.

Arsenal threw themselves into that work, linking up with His Church charity, and within a month they had donated over 30,000 free meals to the borough.

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