Leeds United Foundation Open Veterans’ Extra Time Café

Leeds United Foundation Open Veterans’ Extra Time Café

Whites defender Junior Firpo joined the inaugural session.

The Leeds United Foundation have launched their Extra Time Café, aimed at providing support for veterans and an environment to socialise with those that may have been through similar experiences.

Run alongside official club partner Kindred Group, the sessions will be held once monthly at Elland Road, opening up new opportunities for those not able to attend our Veterans Breakfast Club to meet new people, enjoy refreshments and have access to the club they support.

Simon Wood, Health and Wellbeing Lead at the Leeds United Foundation, said: “People can come and spend time with other people that get them, people that are likeminded and have been through similar experiences, and they can just enjoy the company of people that understand maybe the different things that they have been through.

“But, as well, just to have social interaction, a laugh and a joke with people and it’s about them having a smile on their face when they leave.”

At the very first Extra Time Café, the group were joined by Whites defender Junior Firpo, with the left-back keen to meet and chat with all of the participants, find out more about their experiences, and answer any questions the veterans had about his time in football.

Speaking after the session, Firpo was quick to praise those in attendance and explained the importance of getting involved in Leeds United Foundation events.

“They were a really good group and I think we had a really good time,” he said. “They asked me some good questions. There are some similarities with the group that is like a football team, so I’m really, really happy that I got the chance to speak with them.

“The best thing about being a footballer is when you can help. We are really happy to do these types of things because we can see how happy they are when we are doing it.”

Simon Brown, a veteran who regularly attends the sessions with the club’s official charity, highlighted how vital the groups can be for those involved, and believes the new sessions will see even more people getting access to support.

“One of the things to remember is that, for the veteran’s community, a lot of people still work so I think having the opportunity to meet up after work opens up what we are doing to a lot more people.”

“It isn’t just about getting out of the house, although that is important for some of our veterans and that is what they need. Some of them are isolated, some are disabled, and some are elderly, so this is a good opportunity to mix.

“I think for some of the others, it is looking for advice, looking for support and looking for somewhere where they can fit in and somewhere where they can unload maybe some of the things they don’t want to share with their family. That is what this offers and I think the actual fact that the club is saying ‘come here, you are welcome’, is a massive indicator that they are actually cared for in the community.”

Tom Banks, Head of Corporate Affairs at Kindred Group, added: “Kindred Group has got a really proud heritage of making sure our sponsorships of our clubs not only benefit the clubs themselves, but also the communities. So, we are really delighted to be working with Leeds United and the Leeds United Foundation to support the Extra Time Café.”

The Extra Time Café runs between 6pm and 7:30pm every last Wednesday of the month at Elland Road. Weekly morning sessions run between 10:30pm and 12:30pm in the LUDO Lounge.

For more information, please email fitleeds@leedsunited.com or call 0113 367 6598.