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Martene Carroll

The Player, The Man – Michael Thomas

Footballer Michael Thomas

On Wednesday 10th February, the Jason Roberts Foundation (JRF) were delighted to welcome former Arsenal, Liverpool, and Benfica player Michael Thomas to their latest ‘The Player, The Man’ online interactive session. The live events, which have recently hosted names including Andrew Cole and Emile Heskey, enable the audience to listen and question the guest.

The invited audience had a real and transparent insight into the passions, decisions, emotions, challenges, successes, and love for the game from the former England international. Discussing topics such as life after football, transitioning from Arsenal to Liverpool, the Benfica experience and of course the famous title winning goal meant that everyone in attendance had something to take away from the event, whether that be a blast from the past, a thought-provoking moment, or a nugget of advice. It truly was another memorable evening.

The audience were given the opportunity to ask their own questions and in true Michael style he answered them all, with dignity and integrity. For someone who said that ‘he found playing in front of thousands of people a more comfortable experience than speaking in front of far smaller groups,’ his ease and warmth belied otherwise. Michael was a superb guest who prompted enthusiastic feedback from members of the audience. The captivating interview can be viewed here:

This is not the first time the former midfielder has worked with the Foundation. In 2010 he accompanied the JRF team to Grenada to support the launch of the Premier League National Football Competition.

Since then, he has been working hard off the pitch establishing the Phoenix Sport and Media Group, a multi-disciplinary professional advisory group helping to safeguard and protect iconic talent and some of the world’s most talented rising stars.

Brent Councillor Ketan Sheth, Chairman of Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee added the closing remarks to the event by thanking Michael Thomas personally stating ‘The pandemic has been absolutely brutal particularly here in Brent and surrounding communities, so I am so grateful to the Jason Roberts Foundation for holding community events like this one. It helps to keep us all going strong, particularly our young people. I want to say a huge thank you to Michael, not just a famous footballer but a real community hero to all of us. Thank you very much.’

Otis Roberts, CEO of the Foundation said, ‘As always we are extremely grateful to Michael for his time and commitment. A true great on the pitch and off it as well and we hope to have the opportunity to work with him again in the near future.’

The evening with Michael was recorded and is available to view in 3 parts:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three


JRF Host an Evening with Emile Heskey

Emile Heskey Autobiography Even Heskey Scored

On Wednesday evening the Jason Roberts Foundation were pleased to be joined by former professional footballer Emile Heskey to talk on a range of topics from diversity in the game, pre-season regimes, meditation, the barbers in Liverpool, and the resilience needed to bounce back from adversity.

One of Leicester’s favourite son’s winning promotion, four top-ten Premier League finishes and two League Cups during his 5-years at the Club, he went on to win six trophies with Liverpool after an £11million move in 2000, at the time setting a record transfer fee paid by the Merseyside Club.

The guest panel were joined by 150 people including a large cohort of young people, who had the opportunity to ask questions of the former English footballer, whose career spanned 18-years in the Football League and Premier League and representing England in International football.

Some of the questions that were put to the largely unsung player were What three things do you do every day that has helped with your success? What was your reaction when you got called up by England? Who was the toughest defender you played against? and What was it like for your personally when someone would try to put you down?

Hearing from Emile on issues that resonate with many of the young people who joined the conversation – his humble beginnings, his feelings of loneliness when he first moved to Liverpool, overcoming fierce criticism, racism in football and society, they gained valuable insight on how to face and overcome these challenges, and to become more resilient.

Dean Eldredge, the ghost-writer of the former footballer’s Autobiography, Even Heskey Scored, which was nominated for The Telegraph Sports Book Awards Autobiography of the Year, 2020, was asked in an interview with NB Magazine (  what three words would he use to sum up Emile Heskey? His answer was: Authentic, humble, thoughtful.

Everyone who was lucky enough to join the conversation on Wednesday evening would no doubt agree.

The interview was recorded and can be viewed in 2 parts:

Part One

Part Two

First JRF Health Watch Forum a huge success

3 men talking about prostrate cancer

Last week the Jason Roberts Foundation (JRF) and Cultural Media Centre hosted a Prostrate Cancer Awareness discussion in collaboration with four survivors and a Consultant Surgeon, as part of the Health Watch Series community initiative.

Forum guests and viewers heard from each of the survivors – Errol, Chris, Michael, and Sam, about their experience of being diagnosed with Prostrate Cancer, how it impacted them physically and emotionally, their treatment, and being in remission. Viewers had the opportunity to ask questions as well as gaining valuable information and insight from Dr Rajesh Kavia, Consultant Urological Surgeon BSc(Hons), MB BS(Distinction), FRCS(Urol), FRCS, who has extensive knowledge of the disease.

Dr Kavia, was on hand throughout the evening and provided information to raise awareness of prostrate cancer including diagnosis and treatment. He had this important message for people;

‘A lot of patients with prostate cancer, will not have any symptoms at all, so if you are in your 40’s or 50’s get your GP to do a PSA test. There is no reason not to do a test.’

Guests including Councillor Ketan Sheth – Chair of the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, and Dave Regis, Coach Programme Manager for the Premier League and Trustee of JRF, heard not only about the risks linked to prostrate cancer but also about the importance of having people around you to support you through the process if you are diagnosed.

Sam, a photographer who has worked closely with the Foundation was diagnosed in 2020 and he had this simple message. ‘It is highly important that you arrange an appointment with your GP and have a blood test taken. A year to the day I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I am here and all is well, so get yourself tested.’

Errol Mckellar, who founded the Errol Mckellar Foundation to raise awareness of the disease after he was diagnosed in 2010, emphasised the importance of talking about it, “to stop men from dying through ignorance and fear”. He said; ‘We all have to talk about it. This forum and people around us is so big for us. The more talking we do around this, the better we will become.’

Prostrate Cancer is the most common cancer in men, but most men with early prostrate cancer don’t have symptoms. It’s vital to understand the risks – for example, black men are twice as likely to get prostrate cancer than other men, and family history is another risk factor. To check your risk, and for more information on signs and symptoms, and getting support, go to

The forum discussion can be viewed here:

JRF will be hosting more of these Health Watch Forums in the future. Part 2 – ‘Talking Diabetes’ will be held on Tuesday 26th January.

For more information on upcoming events and news follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, @jasonrobertsFDN.

Young Brent residents debate Climate Change

Illustrated Brent Climate Emergency Strategy

Earlier this week, a panel of young participants of the Jason Roberts Foundation, were invited to a virtual roundtable with Cllr Krupa Sheth, Lead Member for Environment, and Oliver Myers, Head of Environmental Strategy, to discuss climate change and how, collectively, we tackle it.

Brent Council approached the Foundation as they wanted to open a dialogue directly with local people about its draft Climate Emergency Strategy, alongside a formal consultation. There was a particular desire to hear from young people as they are “typically underrepresented as a group in council consultations”, and they can be particularly impacted by the significant health risks from air pollution as their lungs are still developing and they breathe more rapidly than adults.

Ahead of the roundtable the five young people were given a factsheet and a simple illustration of the draft Strategy to provide them with relevant information, to enable them to prepare some questions for Cllr Sheth and Oliver Myers.

Brent’s Draft Climate Emergency Strategy proposes a path to make Brent carbon neutral by 2030 which will mean making changes in all sorts of areas of life in Brent.

The hour-long discussion covered different elements of the draft Strategy and its real-world implications including:

Green homes. How do we make our homes more environmentally friendly? What does a ‘green home’ look like?

The stuff we buy and the stuff we throw away. How can we encourage local businesses to cut back on the amount of plastic they use? Why is recycling important?

Getting around. How can we protect children from air pollution which harms their lungs? How can we get young people into healthy habits, like walking or cycling to school?

In the past two years, young people have driven the climate emergency agenda forward internationally and the young people on the panel showed how incredibly passionate they are about this issue. They have been invited to join the Brent Environmental Network, which is being set up to bring people together to act on climate change. A special schools’ network is also being created.

The informative and engaging debate can be viewed here

JRF Launch the Cultural Media Centre

Cultural Media Centre Logo

On Tuesday evening, the Jason Roberts Foundation (JRF) hosted a virtual launch of a new addition to their offer, the ‘Cultural Media Centre (CMC), situated at Bridgestone Arena, the home of the Foundation since its launch in 2007.

The CMC was borne, in part, as a response to the ongoing pandemic and the need of the Foundation team to find creative ways to stay in contact with and continue to support their local community.

The CMC will be home to:

  • CMC Radio – A hosted internet radio channel
  • CMC TV – An on-demand video channel
  • JRF TV – An on-demand video channel
  • Video Production Facility
  • Podcast Production Facility

Equipment to resource the studio was funded through grants awarded to JRF from the London Community Response Fund and Trustees of Wembley National Stadium Trust, and the Edward Harvist Trust Fund, as well as donations and refurbishment by local firm C&C Builders Ltd.

The online guests including the Mayor of Brent, local Councillors, the Funders, Media Companies including TalkSport, The Voice Media Group, and Tongue-Tied Media, as well as young participants of the Foundation’s Youth programmes, were shown a demo reel showcasing some of the community initiatives that have been made possible through the CMC. This short video can be viewed here

The variety of output is designed to appeal to the local and wider community, including young people, adults, elderly people, those with physical and learning disabilities, those who are socially isolated, schools, colleges, universities, businesses, and charities.

The CMC will provide a platform where “everyone has a voice” and will offer a vital connection in these disconnected times.

Content will encompass a variety of subject areas and issues including community, sport and leisure, wellbeing, education, careers and training, the Arts, and Heritage.

Novices with a keen media and creative interest will be able to receive training to create and deliver their own content, and those with media experience but no access to facilities will have the opportunity to use the CMC.

Otis Roberts, CEO of JRF said, “Creating a platform to share stories that might not otherwise be heard and providing a stepping-stone to kick-start media careers is central to our output.  We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to establish this vital resource, thanks to the funding we have been awarded. We look forward to sharing the CMC with our community.”

Footballing Legend Andrew Cole talks to JRF

Andrew Cole Autobiography Fast Forward

On Wednesday night JRF hosted an audience with former professional footballer Andrew Cole, to talk about his autobiography – Fast Forward: The hard road to football success.

The exciting initiative welcomed the Manchester Utd legend to talk with a special audience, including founder of the Foundation and fellow former professional footballer, Jason Roberts, about his career highs, and some of the challenges he has faced during his life.

A true community man and inspiration, Andrew has been an influential supporter of JRF for more than a decade. In 2010 he launched the Floodlights Programme in Grenada, he frequently visits JRF youth programmes and schools in Brent, and he helped to raise funds for the Foundation in December 2019 when he agreed to be the focus of a special tribute evening.

The select audience at the evenings’ event which was held via Zoom, was made up of Councillors from Brent, JRF Youth Ambassadors and Trustees, as well as some football devotees. They were rewarded by hearing insights into the prolific goal scorer’s career and life, and had the opportunity to ask their own questions.

Cole spent six years with Manchester Utd and won eight major trophies, including the Treble of the Premier League, FA Cup, and UEFA Champions League in 1999, and was capped 15 times for the England National Team.

A synopsis by Waterstones of his autobiography: Fast Forward states; “Much misunderstood, the powerhouse striker sets the record straight about a successful yet complex career.”

The book, which is published by Hodder & Stoughton and features a Foreword written by Sir Alex Ferguson is described as “a thought-provoking and gripping autobiography about Andrew Cole’s determination to succeed against all the odds.”

JRF host very first Virtual Careers Fair

Flyer advertising Digital Careers Fair

The Jason Roberts Foundation (JRF) were delighted to host their first ‘Virtual Career Fair’ at the end of the November. The initiative, which is not the first Careers Fair the foundation has hosted, was certainly a different approach to the normal format of face-to-face interaction that visitors are accustomed to. Although this virtual offering was something born from circumstance rather than choice, it proved to be a big success.

The format and execution were simple, as the charity listened to five key-note speakers from local and national organisations who informed viewers on the opportunities for training, employment, and development within their sector and specifically the company they represent.

The Royal Air Force, St George Property Developers, University Campus of Football Business (UCFB), Network Rail, and Brent Works, were all given a short time slot to deliver their presentation, expertly facilitated by Jo Tongue from Tongue Tied Management and Trustee of JRF.

The 90-minute live broadcast gave viewers the opportunity, to remotely interact and ask questions of the presenters, enabling them to discover more about the opportunities available to them, and to obtain valuable key contacts and careers advice.

Otis Roberts, CEO for JRF said: “The success of our previous Careers Fairs has meant they have become a mainstay in our operational calendar. However, the impact of COVID-19 on peoples’ livelihoods and future employment prospects meant it was more important than ever to deliver a Careers event. We had to think innovatively to be able to overcome the restrictions and to find a way to deliver this. I’m pleased that, despite the hurdles, we were able to deliver this, thanks to the involvement of the organisations that generously gave their time and expertise. We will certainly look to deliver more online Careers Fairs in the future.’

If you missed the live event, a Highlights reel is available providing the information needed to take your next step in your career journey.

For more information, please contact

Dawn Butler MP highlights work of JRF

MP Dawn Butler with Mayor of Brent

JRF were thrilled to be approached by the Office of Dawn Butler MP for Brent Central, to feature on a virtual Christmas advent calendar.

Rather than delivering a calendar constituency wide, Dawn wanted to create a virtual calendar to promote the work of charities, schools, and community groups in Brent, to cover “the great, and often unsung, work being delivered to those that desperately need it.”

JRF was chosen as one of the charities to highlight in the advent calendar because, they said “Your work has been invaluable during this time and Dawn would love to share your stories about all that you are doing!”

Dawn Butler is a British Labour Party politician who is Member of Parliament for Brent Central since 2015. Butler served as Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities in Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet from 2017 to 2020 and MP for Brent South from 2005 to 2010.

JRF feature on Door 9 which can be seen via the following link:

Brent Builders C&C support Foundation

Directors of C&C Builders and JRF CEO

In football they say that you are only as good as the team around you which is certainly the case for the Jason Roberts Foundation (JRF). When they were approached by Brent-based C&C Builders, with a proposal from them to make a regular donation to the charity, the team at JRF were delighted.

Established in 2004, with many years of experience in the construction industry, C&C Builders aim is to provide the highest quality for its clients. Their work includes disabled adaptations, home building and renovations for Local Authorities, Commercial Businesses, and private Individuals. The professionalism of the firm and their workmanship is evident from the redecoration work they carried out earlier this year at Bridgestone Arena, JRF’s hub in the heart of Stonebridge.

Martene Carroll, Business Development Manager for JRF said; “The generosity of spirit C&C Builders has shown should be applauded. During this last year that has proven particularly challenging for businesses, charities, and individuals, it is heartening that the Directors of this local firm are thinking of their community by supporting a charity that puts community first.”

The building firm also regularly highlights the work of JRF through their own media platforms and have had their vehicles wrapped with JRF branding. Community really is at the forefront of their thinking as they promote their association with the foundation while they work in residential homes and businesses across Brent, Ealing, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington, and Southwark.

A representative from C&C Builders commented; “We are extremely proud to be associated with JRF and to support the outstanding work and dedication they provide to the people of Brent. We really feel that JRF make a huge difference within the communities they reach out to.

We look to maintain our long-term working relationship with the JRF and are proud to continue to support the foundation to enable them to continue to meet their ambitions and goals.”

For more information on C&C Builders please visit or call 0203 667 2563.

JRF Announce first Digital Careers Fair

Flyer advertising Digital Careers Fair

JRF are pleased to announce their first Digital Careers Fair broadcasting live on Wednesday 25th November.

The event, which will be aired via StreamYard, will be hosted by Jo Tongue – CEO of Tongue Tied Management and Trustee of JRF, with guests on this first panel from a range of industries and fields including Network Rail, the Royal Air Force, St. George Property Developers, University Campus of Football Business (UCFB), and Brent Works.

For a few years JRF has delivered programmes of support involving life skills, education, training, and career opportunities within their multi-sports activities, and have hosted several Careers Fairs to benefit their young participants.

With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting people’s livelihoods with businesses closing, job losses, income reduction, and future ambitions  put on hold, JRF felt this was a crucial time to forge ahead with the Careers element of their programmes.

Otis Roberts, CEO of JRF said, “We understand how this ongoing crisis is affecting peoples lives, with their ability to earn a decent living a primary concern for many. For our young people, the future is uncertain and plans they had in place at the start of this year, may be on hold, or no longer viable.”

He went on to say. “The pandemic has had a bearing on how many people are reviewing their current situation, and might be considering a different career pathway, retraining, furthering their education, or setting up their own business. With no upper age limit on some Apprenticeships now, it’s never too late to pursue new opportunities. We wanted to provide a platform where people can access information that is relevant to their future plans.”

The first event will be streamed from 6pm next Wednesday and information on how to access the broadcast will be updated on JRF’s social media platforms – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook @JasonRobertsFdn