Our special guests for our Non-League Day game against Stonewall on Saturday, October 12 will be children and adults from Akwaaba.
Here they tell us about their amazing work in their own words – and how you can help…
Akwaaba is a Hackney-based social centre for migrants that runs every Sunday afternoon.
We believe in solidarity not charity and aim to create a community of care that can both support people made vulnerable by the UK border regime and be part of the fight against it.
With racism intensifying and the extension of border controls into all aspects of civil society – particularly through the government’s ‘hostile environment’ policies – spaces like Akwaaba are more important than ever.
Each Sunday about 200 people come together at Akwaaba to create a space of care, community and solidarity.
People can relax with a cuppa and biscuits, build friendships over delicious lunches, and take part in a range of workshops – English conversation and literacy classes, exploring experiences through writing and telling stories, yoga, choir etc.
There’s also practical support to be found with using computers and getting signposted to services.
Providing childcare means that parents and carers can have a much-needed breather and take part in workshops or simply enjoy a restful afternoon.
It also means there is a space dedicated to the needs of children and young people.
Around 50 children aged between 3 and 16 come to our Children’s Space each Sunday and enjoy books, toys, games, craft activities, dance workshops, skateboarding and, of course, football.
Our football “ultras” cannot wait until 3pm when their five-a-side game begins and it’s sometimes near impossible to get them to leave the pitch for lunch- or home-time.
So we were hugely excited when Clapton CFC invited the Akwaaba Children’s Project to watch their match against Stonewall FC.
Beyond football, there’s plenty we have in common. Migrant solidarity for one, and everyone welcome for another (the word Akwaaba means welcome in Twi, a Ghanaian language).
We love that Clapton works to be an actively welcoming place, especially for those who haven’t always felt welcome in mainstream football culture, including women, people of colour and the LGBT community.
Another commonality is realising that we can’t rely on the government, powerful individuals or big institutions, be they corporations or non-profits, to give us what we need – we’ve got to get together and do it for ourselves, on our own terms.
Akwaaba is entirely volunteer-run and we strive to organize in a way that is participatory, horizontal and centres the people most affected.
Organising in this way means we’re not just there for communities, but we’re a community in and of itself, and we get the impression that’s how it feels to be part of Clapton CFC too.
Akwaaba families and Children’s Volunteers will be out in force supporting Clapton on Saturday 12 October. If you’d like to support us too, there’s a few things you can do:
Donate – we’ll be doing bucket collections at the match but you can also go online <https://akwaaba.org.uk/donate/> to sponsor our travel scheme, make a one-off donation to our running costs or purchase something on our Kids’ Wishlist <https://akwaaba.org.uk/kids-wishlist/>
Volunteer – we rely on volunteers to keep us open every Sunday. We’re looking for Children’s Volunteers, Children’s Football volunteers, Welcome Volunteers, Premises Supervisors, Polish-speaking volunteers, Computer Volunteers and Fundraisers, amongst other roles. You can find out more about the roles and how to apply here <http://akwaaba.org.uk/volunteers/>
Spread the word – find us on Twitter <https://twitter.com/akwaabahackney> and Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/Akwaabahackney/>, and help spread the word about Akwaaba for people who might want to donate, volunteer or visit a welcoming space like ours.