Wolves Foundation’s 2023 in review

Wolves Foundation’s 2023 in review Image

It has been another extremely busy year for Wolves Foundation, the club’s official charity, continuing to create opportunities and change the lives of people of all ages and abilities across Wolverhampton.

Whether via the core areas of delivery in health and wellbeing, education and skills, and community cohesion, or via a series of events to help raise funds to support the Foundation’s work in the city, the charity has once again delivered a huge range of projects impacting thousands of lives.

Below offers just a snapshot of some of the Foundation’s highlights of 2023!



Whilst the vast majority of the Foundation’s work is concentrated at ‘home’, in Wolverhampton and surrounding areas, there are often opportunities to spread the word about the club’s official charity to a far wider, and global, audience.  Schools Officer Richard Lewis, who actually landed a full-time position within the Foundation whilst studying on the degree programme, was able to head out to Orlando at the start of the year to deliver coaching sessions as part of the Premier League Primary Stars initiative.


Whilst there are specific campaigns and fixtures around issues of racism and discrimination, promoting inclusion and cohesion within the community is a key theme of the Foundation all the year around.  This includes many player visits such as Toti Gomes heading out to a local school, young professional Ethan McLeod joining former Wolves striker David Kelly for an event at Molineux and many different activations from staff around Black History Month.  This also featured highlighting the fantastic achievements of Rob Wilson and Dave Wallace, who having started Walking Football with the Foundation, had gone on to represent the Caribbean at the World Nations Cup.


The Foundation linked up with the City of Wolverhampton Council and ACCI (African Caribbean Community Initiative) to combat the growing problem of bed poverty across the city.  The cost of living crisis had led to hundreds of children and parents not having a bed to sleep in at night, so the Good Night Project was launched to provide beds and bedding and ensure everyone has access to a good night’s sleep.


Molineux Memories is a hugely important group which meets on a weekly basis for people with dementia and their carers.  Former players such as John Richards and Steve Daley are now regular visitors to the sessions to chat about their Wolves memories, whilst one highlight of the last year has been a current player visit which included Matheus Cunha trying his luck as a bingo caller!


Healthy Goals is a project which promotes the healthy growth and positive emotional wellbeing of children under four and their families.  The children absolutely love a visit from a Wolves player, and Mario Lemina popping in to a ‘Stay & Play’ session, joining in several of their activities, was no exception.


The Foundation run a Football & Education College Academy with the City of Wolverhampton College, offering BTEC qualifications and the opportunity to represent Wolves against other professional clubs.  Enrichment opportunities and player visits form an important part of the course and midfielder Joe Hodge helped with a really important session around stress awareness. Not only that, but the students delivered double delight for their coaches with both teams finishing as champions of their respective divisions. With one of the teams coached by former Wolves striker Lee Mills, now back at Molineux working for the Foundation, the reward for success included attending the EFL Championship play-off final at Wembley.


Former promotion-winning Wolves captain Karl Henry has also visited students enrolled on the Football & Education Academy to pass on his experiences and lead a coaching session. “There are some really good young lads who were listening and learning and I am sure a few of them will have bright futures in the game,” he said.  The Premier League Kicks project for young people is another really important cornerstone of the Foundation’s delivery, and Henry also attended one of their ‘Kicks in the Park’ sessions which took place over the summer.


A young Wolverhampton pupil who had found watching and talking about football a comfort after the sudden loss of his father was surprised at school by a visit from Craig Dawson. And there was more.  Dawson presented Year Five student Yatin with a mascot place for the Foundation’s Focus Fixture against Chelsea.


And that brings us neatly on to the Focus Fixture! The annual first team fixture designated to raising both awareness and funds for Wolves Foundation was another huge success with so many different activities taking place on the day.  A fantastic amount of money was raised, and the team also delivered, with a superb 1-0 win against Chelsea!


Focus Fixture day included a new event on the Foundation calendar in the form of the Molineux Mile.  Young fans were able to take the opportunity of walking around the perimeter of the pitch on matchday, chalking up a mile at what was not only a really positive community event but also proved a very worthwhile fundraiser.


Wolves Disability FC turned ten years old this year, and this really important part of the Foundation’s offering, ensuring football is available and accessible to all, continues to go from strength to strength.  The highlight? As ever, that was the game played during half time of the Focus Fixture against Chelsea, when fans of both teams were fully engaged and gave the participants some brilliant support.


With so many challenges and pressures around modern life, particularly in recent years, the Foundation’s Head 4 Health project can be a lifeline in offering adults the chance to improve their mental health through educational workshops and physical activity in an informal environment.  As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, goalkeeper Dan Bentley was the special guest for a chat about how he copes with the pressures and nerves of life as a footballer. England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty was another visitor to Head 4 Health later in the year, as he headed to Molineux as part of a visit to Wolverhampton.


Support from Wolves Women as part of the overall player activation programme has also made a hugely positive impact on the Foundation.  Striker Beth Merrick and goalkeeper Shan Turner are among those who have both inspired participants in local schools and encouraged potential stars of the future. And Turner was joined by team-mate Ellie Wilson in supporting the Molineux Sleepout.


The August Bank Holiday provided a race with a difference in Wolverhampton City Centre as Krazy Races came to the city.  The Foundation were delighted to be a headline charity partner of the soapbox derby event, benefitting from the fundraising whilst also taking part thanks to a cart prepared by Purcell Branding.  Senior Manager Tom Warren was at the wheel, and the way he took one corner in particular means no one has accepted the offer of a lift from him since.


The area of cooking has proved a particularly fruitful one for the Foundation in recent years. Wolves’ Head Chef Luke Hitchins is a great supporter of the Foundation who has not only delivered cooking classes for Head 4 Health participants but has also been working with them on using produce from their allotment in Wolves’ matchday catering.  Watch this space on that particular initiative!


Back in October, another new event took place to benefit the Foundation – the Content Creators Cup!  Eight teams of players whose common ground was creating content around Wolves came together for the seven-a-side tournament in the Arena at Compton, raising over £3,000 for the Foundation. 


November saw the Foundation host its first ever Gala Dinner, with over 200 guests packing into the Sir Jack Hayward Suite to find out more about the work of the charity and enjoy the distribution of awards to inspirational participants and volunteers.  Hosted by ambassadors Johnny Phillips and Mark Rhodes, the event was attended by many staff and players from the men’s and women’s senior set-ups including Maximilian Kilman, Pedro Neto and Matheus Cunha, and women’s manager Dan McNamara and players Anna Price, Ellie Wilison and Anna Morphet.  Wolves Executive Chairman Jeff Shi and Sporting Director Matt Hobbs also attended along with directors Christy Gu, John Bowater and John Gough, and former manager Graham Turner.


Among the guests at the Gala Dinner were the Foundation Pack Patrons, part of a new initiative launched during the year to encourage closer working with partners from the city to the benefit of the community.  Patrons are local businesses who make a donation to the Foundation’s work to support project growth and create new opportunities for people in the city.   The Foundation are hugely appreciative to have received the support from so many fantastic pack patrons, which is having a really positive impact on the charity’s work.


The Foundation are delighted to have a team of ambassadors who attend events and projects and help to spread the word of the Foundation’s work to a wider audience.  And there have been three ‘new signings’ made during 2023! Wolves captain Maximilian Kilman joined the team just prior to the Gala Dinner, not long after chef and home influencer Mitch Lane had also joined the team, announced as he was leading a budget cooking session with Head 4 Health.  And then towards the end of the year, talented broadcaster Amber Sandhu, who works for a range of organisations including the BBC and Sky Sports, also became part of the Ambassador pack!


All eyes were on the weather forecast one Friday night in November for the annual Molineux Sleepout, when 150 people braved the elements to sleep under the stars in the Stan Cullis Stand.  Another fantastic event supported by local dignitaries and Wolves Foundation ambassadors raised in excess of £50,000 which was shared between the Foundation and the Good Shepherd charity for projects supporting vulnerable people across the city.


Christmas is always a busy time for the Foundation, not just with holiday activities and putting on events for participants of all ages, but also with supporting those people who are less fortunate. Over 500 gifts received from the public were redistributed to local children via different charities thanks to the annual Shoebox Appeal.  Elsewhere there were many different Christmas parties and events put on across Foundation projects, as well as the first ever Santa Dash – youngsters getting the chance to complete ‘five Golden rings’ around the Molineux pitch in the company of Wolfie and Santa!  Plenty of festive fun was had by all.

To finish, a massive thank you to everyone who has supported Wolves Foundation in so many different ways over the last 12 months. We wish you a very Happy New Year. See you in 2024!

"Of course it’s so important to give back to the community and Wolverhampton as a whole. It's great to be here and to show our support."

Maximilian Kilman | Wolves Captain and Foundation Ambassador

"As a lifelong Wolves fan, to represent the Club and Foundation is something I'll cherish forever."

Daz James | Wolves Disability FC

"Without Wolves Foundation I wouldn't be here today, that's for certain."

John Martin | Head 4 Health participant

"It is amazing to be out there meeting people and having some fun. It is really important for Wolves to have this connection with the fans and to see the happiness in their faces."

Toti Gomes | Wolves Defender

"Savannah absolutely loves the group. The staff are committed to making every single session fun and welcoming."

Natasha | Healthy Goals parent

"It’s special because it's my club and I’m so proud to be from Wolves as well. I can see the projects and all the work Wolves Foundation are doing and I know it makes such an impact, so to even be a little part of that and to help out where I can – it's so exciting."

Amber Sandhu | Broadcaster and Foundation Ambassador

"It’s huge for the school, I can’t speak highly enough of Wolves Foundation and the opportunities that they give us."

Mr Robinson | Woodsetton School

“I think all football clubs should be the beating heart of their communities and Wolves, through the Foundation, manages to do that."

Johnny Phillips | Sky Sports Presenter and Foundation Ambassador

"We get loads of different opportunities with a Premier League club. I feel really privileged to be a part of it."

Mustafa | Football & Education College Academy student

"Frank has Alzheimer’s Disease and when he was first diagnosed we felt lost and alone. Attending Molineux Memories is a lifeline for both of us; it is run by friendly, committed staff who ensure that everyone is included and enjoys themselves."

Frank and Alison | Molineux Memories

"To come here and be hands on with the kids is unreal. Working with Wolves and the Foundation is a blessing and I'm honoured. It feels surreal sometimes but it's the best feeling."

S-X | Music Producer and Foundation Ambassador

"It's good to give back what you got. Football and the Wolves Foundation help me, so I like to help the community."

Taye | Premier League Kicks

"Wolves is a fantastic football club, and they’re excelling off the pitch as well with all the brilliant community work that the Foundation does. The passion of the coaches and the opportunities to play are amazing."

Jack Rutter | Former Great Britain Paralympian and Foundation Ambassador

"Wolves has definitely helped my personal development, but now also helps me to develop people I work with. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the opportunities Wolves Foundation have given me."

Carl Ackasovs | Wolves Foundation

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