Paul Merson Inspires audience at BOXPARK Wembley

Paul Merson at BOXPARK Wembley

On the evening of Monday 13th June 2022 tables at BOXPARK Wembley filled with 400 guests young and old, to hear the inspirational story of Paul Merson’s journey from Harlesden in Brent to the national pitches of the Premier League, as well as the International stage, earning 21 Caps for England.

As part of the Jason Roberts Foundation Inspire to Achieve Heritage Programme, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players, the project will uncover the untold stories of 18 footballers from Brent who paved the way for future sportspeople, and will produce exhibitions, talks, and memory cafes along the way.

Paul answered questions from freelance sports broadcaster Pippa Monique and football commentator and pundit for Sky Sports Dickie Davies with humour and honesty. Michael Adams from JRF’s Cultural Media Centre followed the professionals, and Heritage Youth Ambassadors Eyadd and Yunis demonstrated their journalistic ability on the stage in front of the packed audience.

Former professional footballer, manager, and sports television pundit for Sky Sports, Paul talked openly about the highs and lows of his professional career, starting as an Apprentice at Arsenal in 1984, before his debut for the Gunners on 22 November 1986 against Manchester City.

During the evening Paul was presented with a personally penned shirt by his former youth teammates from Forest United, the first club he played for, who celebrate their 50th anniversary next year.

Amongst the audience were some of Paul’s former teammates from Arsenal, the Mayor of Brent Cllr. Abdi Aden, Chief Executive of Brent Council Carolyn Downs, and Leader of the Council Muhammed Butt.

Otis Roberts, CEO of the JRF said of the evening; “”To have someone of Paul’s calibre as part of our Inspire to Achieve project is an honour. He is an asset to any team. Young people and future sportspeople can learn a lot from him.”

He went on to say; “We are very grateful to BOXPARK Wembley for hosting this event, Christian Klapp founder of Eversleigh LLP for sponsoring the evening, Laura Ashby from Quintain, and of course the National Lottery Heritage Fund for giving us the opportunity to uncover these untold stories so they can be preserved for current and future generations, and we hope they too will be Inspired to Achieve their dreams and goals.”

Picnic on the pitch at Wembley for Big Jubilee Lunch

Queens Platinum Jubilee English Logo
England legends Sir Geoff Hurst and Karen Carney have announced plans for a huge community event at Wembley Stadium to take place on Thank You Day, the final day of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Thank You Day is being held this year on Sunday 5 June, to coincide with the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

The Stein Brothers Inspire youngsters to Achieve

Stein Brothers Memory Cafe Digital Flyer

On Wednesday 15th December, the JRF Team hosted the first Memory Café Event as part of the Inspire to Achieve Heritage Project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Stein brothers – Brian, Edwin, and Mark – shared their truly inspiring story of the journey they travelled from their home in Cape Town to Brent and their individual careers as professional footballers.

The event at Bridgestone Arena which was also broadcast online via Zoom was launched with an opening ceremony including a dance performance from Shaq, who delivers dance training sessions for the Foundation, and a group of local youngsters, to a backdrop of the England and South African flags being waved.

Thanks to National Lottery players, the exciting new project will uncover the untold stories of 18 footballers from Brent who paved the way for future sportspeople, and will produce exhibitions, talks, and memory cafes during the term of the project, and beyond.

Young people from Brent will benefit from the Inspire to Achieve project by honing their media, presenting, and production skills and will have the opportunity to meet and interview the former players as part of the collation of their oral histories.

Some of the subjects the brothers discussed included living in Brent, school days, dealing with racism, and ending their footballing careers.

Bite size Vodcasts with highlights from the evening can be accessed via the new CMC website here

JRF continue to connect communities

Greeting Elders at Event

On Sunday 5th December the JRF Team once again opened their doors at the Bridgestone Arena, to welcome the older residents of Brent for a special community event.

As part of the Foundation’s commitment to engage and support members of the community who may be isolated or lonely, JRF hosted a day of sports, music, games, and refreshments specifically for the older people in Brent.

The initiative which forms part of JRF’s Building Communities project, funded by the Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL) enabled residents to connect or reconnect with friends, and neighbours.

The JRF team were delighted by the turn out as the hall soon filled with the lively chat and laughter of those who attended. Information was provided about the other activities offered through the Building Communities project including flower arranging, online chair-based exercise sessions for those with limited mobility, sports, fitness, and yoga sessions at the centre, and, more recently, a book club.

A short video of the event can be viewed via the Cultural Media Centre Website

For more information about JRF activities and events please follow us on social media #JasonRobertsFdn or contact us for more details on

JRF & Brent Council Climate Cup 2021

Climate discussion

On Wednesday 8th December JRF were pleased to again work in partnership with Brent Council on hosting a new initiative, the Climate Cup, a free Football Tournament for 14 – 21-year-olds. 

Teams competed for the Climate Cup 2021 Trophy, and off the pitch they had the opportunity to learn more about climate change and the small, everyday things we can all do to try to try to halt it.

Climate change and environmental sustainability are subjects that the young people of Brent have shown a keen interest in. During the round-table discussions they demonstrated a good knowledge of the issues we all face in the fight to stop further damage to our planet, understanding the impact this would have on them and future generations.

During the evening refreshments were provided and prizes were given to some of the deserving competitors. The winning team raised the Climate Cup 2021 trophy at the end of the football tournament, but everyone who attended agreed that Climate change is an issue we all must win.

Read the Brent Council press release here

Watch a short video of the event here

View other Podcasts and Videos via the Cultural Media Centre website here



JRF Launch Inspire to Achieve Heritage Project

Group shot at Launch of Heritage Projet

On Wednesday 17th November JRF launched the new Inspire to Achieve Heritage project: Uncovering the Histories of the Footballers who Paved the Way in the borough of Brent including Paul Merson, Dave Beasant, Rachel Yankey, Richard Langley, the Stein brothers – Mark, Edwin, and Brian, Jason Roberts, Luther Blissett, Phillip Ifil, Jerel Ifil, Dale Banton, Dave Regis, Ricky Hill, Gary Waddock, Darren Currie, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Jerome Thomas, Junior Lewis, Eartha Pond, and the family of the late Cyrille Regis.

The Inspire to Achieve Launch Event was held at Bridgestone Arena against the backdrop of the home of English football, the iconic Wembley Stadium.

Guests enjoyed hearing from Patricia Lichst, Engagement Manager for the National Lottery Heritage Fund, New PFA Chief Executive Maheta Molango, along with UCFB’s President of GIS Sharona Friedman, representatives from The Rise Trust, Brent Schools – who will represent a key link in the project, and Youth Ambassadors from JRF.

Thanks to National Lottery players, the exciting new project will uncover the untold stories of 18 footballers from Brent who paved the way for future sportspeople, and will produce exhibitions, talks, and memory cafes along the way.

An emotional Mark and Brian Stein paid tribute to their late father, while Jamaica international Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Eartha Pond, and Jerome Thomas hailed the need for such history to be uncovered.

Young people from Brent will benefit from the Inspire to Achieve project by honing their media, presenting, and production skills and will have the opportunity to meet and interview the former players as part of the collation of their oral histories.

Visits to the areas these former footballers lived, to the schools they attended when they were young, the parks and green spaces across the Borough where they may have first kicked a ball, and observing their views on the changes that have taken place through the regeneration of the area, will play a massive part in uncovering the authentic stories that will stay will us and be recorded and archived in our museums and libraries.

Otis Roberts, CEO of the Foundation commented, “JRF would like to thank the National Lottery Heritage Fund for believing in the project. Thanks to National Lottery players they have provided the opportunity for us to uncover these authentic stories from some of the unsung heroes of the game, some of whom arrived in Brent from distant shores and who achieved so much. These untold stories will be preserved for current and future generations, and we hope they too will be Inspired to Achieve their dreams and goals.”

He went on to say, “Brent is the home of Wembley Stadium which hosts major football matches, but the borough does not have a professional club in the area. It’s fitting that this project remembers and celebrates the players that paved the way for the likes of Raheem Sterling and Yannick Bolasie who were both raised in this wonderful borough.”

Watch a short video of the evening here

Photos Credit

Cultural Media Centre gives a voice to Brent residents

Cultural Media Centre Launch Event flyer

November 10th was the launch night for the new Cultural and Media Centre (CMC) at the Jason Roberts Foundation (JRF). The evening was dedicated to informing every individual at our centre, ranging from children to adults about how the new CMC provides a platform where everyone has a voice, especially during the disconnected times we have faced, during the pandemic, which sees a shift to more online ways of communicating.

The launch night highlighted the opportunities within the CMC, for example, photography, engagement, media, and film. This centre’s aim is to help individuals learn new skills and credentials as well as offer enjoyable media activities that are on offer at the same time.

The JRF held multiple interactive workshops with children of all ages and backgrounds so that they could discuss opportunities. Additionally, displaying the new full green screen studio, microphones, and multiple photographic types of equipment available, with the aim to promote the different career opportunities within the media industry whilst inspiring the young generation.

Many of the individuals that attended the evening, reported positively to the CMC; one Brent teenager expressed that she was very ‘excited’; and another young person stated that they ‘couldn’t wait to get started’ as they were extremely impressed by the new media opportunities the centre is now providing them, as these resources (and Media Courses) are not provided by their schools.

In addition, a small number of Brent youths have launched a new podcast, ‘Kids Talk’ which has become quite popular around the centre; this podcast encourages young people to discuss any relevant topic, no matter how big or small, such as disputes with siblings, COVID-19, and sport. This illustrates the opportunities and freedom these individuals will get due to the CMC that possibly wouldn’t be offered elsewhere.

The JRF encourages and welcomes everyone to come along and explore these amazing new resources available to help provide skills and opportunities to them.

Written by Georgia Winters – UCFB Student

Community First for JRF

Women's football teams

As part of the Foundation’s commitment to putting community first, each Sunday Brent residents are invited to Bridgestone Arena to take part in a host of activities.

Over the last few months JRF have held a range of Community Sundays to cater for individuals and groups of different ages from the Brent neighbourhood.

These events have included international football tournaments which have seen Algerian, Brazilian, Somalian, and Indian communities join forces, a Women’s football tournament where the Brazilians took the title, and more recently a T10 Cricket match hosted by local company, Bakkover Foods.

In September the Stonebridge Originals enjoyed a day of family fun with refreshments and music, another Community Sunday saw local elders come together to meet friends and neighbours, and take part in a range of activities, and the theme of a summer event was a Festival of Sport, where families could take part in a range of sporting activities in the open air.

The purpose of JRF’s Community Sunday events is to encourage individuals and groups of residents to come together and enjoy the activities on offer.

Martene Carroll, Business Development Manager for the Foundation commented; “We know, from the community outreach work we have done over the last year, there are many people of all different ages and situations, who feel isolated and lonely. By hosting these Community Sundays, we are offering everyone across Brent the chance to come together and take part in some fun activities, but most importantly, to meet neighbours and hopefully, make new friends. Our aim through these events, is to help residents feel more connected to their community.”

Martene added, “We encourage anyone who wants to come along to future events to follow us on social media #JasonRobertsFdn where we promote upcoming activities.”



JRF & Higgins Focus on Climate Change

Children holding booklets on Climate Change

On Wednesday 13th October, the JRF in partnership with Higgins invited the Brent community to join them at Bridgestone Arena to discuss the all-important topic of Climate Change and the minor changes people can make that will lead to a positive change.

Waste Management giant Veolia, Ackroyd Lowrie Architects and Brent Council who are making it their business to act on climate change, attended the important discussion covering subjects like carbon emissions, how it affects us, and ways to minimise carbon emission in Brent – for example, walking and cycling more.

A week prior to the event, JRF held a community forum to assess local people’s knowledge and understanding of the subject, which helped residents to prepare questions they wanted to ask of the panel on the day of the event.

JRF Youth Ambassadors have previously had the opportunity to be involved in round table discussions with Brent Council and Ackroyd Lowrie Architects and they again used the opportunity to ask tough questions of the panel.

The Climate Change Discussion which ran from 5.00 – 8.00 pm was a free to attend event for the Brent community to have the opportunity to hear from the panel of professionals, including Ackroyd Lowrie Architects – who kindly sponsored the refreshments for the day. Oliver Lowrie – one of the Directors of the visionary Architect Practice provided a fantastic insight into the effects of carbon emissions, as well as a view of the new buildings and developments they are working on through their virtual reality headsets.

Ackroyd Lowries’ write up of the event can be read here

With sport as the backdrop of this vital discussion, the event continued into the evening with elders from the community, and centre user groups giving their views about Climate Change.

The JRF Team look forward to hosting similar events in the future.

Watch the video here




JRF Welcome Brent Elders to Bridgestone

Older people arriving at Bridgestone Arena

On Sunday 10th October the JRF Team were delighted to invite older Brent residents to a special Community Event at Bridgestone Arena as part of their Building Communities project funded through the Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL).

This exciting day with the doors opening at 3 pm was organised by JRF and Diane Shrouder, one of the Foundation’s Community Outreach mentors, to invite residents, many of whom have been isolating throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, to come together and enjoy a day to socialise with neighbours and friends.

These older residents, some of whom regularly take part in Cherelle’s online exercise classes, had the opportunity to enjoy some of the activities on offer including Reflexology, sports and games, golf with one of our delivery partners – The Golf Trust, and refreshments with music to add to the atmosphere.

Brent Health Matters were on hand to offer information and guidance on general health concerns including blood pressure, and Cherelle held a special chair exercise class for those who attended.

JRF Youth Ambassadors were on hand to assist with the community event and mixed with the older residents and heard stories of growing up in Brent over the years, and Age UK supported the Foundation with some of the resources required.

Sister Penelope from the Seventh Day Adventist Group attended with members from the Golden Ages Group.

Those who hadn’t visited the centre for some time, had the chance to tour the new Cultural Media Centre, and a music performance from a local reggae artist Vincent Nap added a touch of spice to the special event.