THE community arm of Colchester United invested more than £600,000 in projects.

Colchester United Football in the Community is a not-for-profit organisation which has launched holiday programmes, a men’s weight loss scheme and a social club to help older people combat loneliness.

It developed a four-year strategy and has published a report revealing its achievements over its first 12 months.

A total of £616,414 was invested in the community.

Of this, about £240,000, came from the money people paid to take part in activities.

The other 60 per cent came from grants from outside organisations such as the Premier League.

Surplus cash is reinvested into developing more projects.

The community activities amounted to a total of 20,000 hours and involved partnerships with 82 different organisations. A total of 30 paid staff work under the programme, of which four were recruited over the past 12 months.

Although Football in the Community benefits from Colchester United resources for some activities, it is run as an entirely separate entity to the club itself.

Corin Haines, head of community, said: “The first year of the delivery of our Unite our Communities strategy has been a hugely rewarding and successful one providing a clear guide for staff, partner organisations and participants of the direction we are taking.

“We have an incredible workforce who have an outstanding impact on our communities.

“They make a genuine difference to thousands of people’s lives every single day - their hard work and dedication in the background often goes unnoticed.

“The strong foundations that have been built since the inception of Colchester United Football in the Community in 2013 has enabled our engagement levels to rise, together with increased investment in the community.!

Next steps include to focus more on 12-month traineeship opportunities for school leavers at Colchester United such as in catering or community coaching.

There are hopes to expand disability programmes and community safety projects.