WEST Ham has embarked on a mission to defeat loneliness in south Essex by giving older people the chance to meet up through their love of football.

The club’s foundation, along with charity Friends of The Elderly, is launching its Any Old Irons initiative in Hadleigh this month.

Any Old Irons was created in 2016 to help older people living in East London combat loneliness.

It has proven so successful, being shortlisted for major awards and featured on BBC’s Match of the Day, that it is now being expanded.

Any Old Irons gives participants the opportunity to connect with other fans locally, bringing them together for fun and friendship.

Those attending can also learn how to stay in touch with their fellow fans and the Club using digital technology.

Maureen, a regular at the Any Old Irons sessions in East Ham, encouraged older people in Hadleigh, and the rest of south Essex, to get involved.

She said: "I have made some firm and long-lasting friendships within the group which I hope will develop as we all grow older, also going to the West Ham United matches and meeting other group members is now part of the match day experience for a lot of us.

“Being part of the Any Old Irons has allowed me to take time out for me and given me an opportunity to socialise.

"I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get out a bit more and loves football.”

Since 2016, more than 200 over-65s have signed up to the scheme.

The project is supported by the Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association.

Maria Abraham, health manager at West Ham United Foundation, said: “We’re delighted to be able to take Any Old Irons into a new Borough, and are keen to see as many as possible sign up. If you know anyone over 65 then pass them our way as we’d love to welcome them to Any Old Irons.”

The new group will meet at Fattys Bar, 20 High St, Hadleigh, starting on November 13 for five consecutive Tuesdays.

Email hello@fote.org.uk or call 0330 332 1110.