COLCHESTER United Football in the Community have been going the extra mile to help families out during half term – both on and off the pitch.

The U’s charity partner has this week been running a special sports camp for children who are vulnerable or have parents who are critical workers.

And the Shrub End-based organisation have also been delivering food parcels and activity packs to those on free school meals, during lockdown.

It is the latest example of the significant role the charity has played during the Covid-19 pandemic, in the North Essex area.

More than 60 children have been attending the special camps this week, taking part in a selection of multi sports, social and fun team games.

They have been adhering to social distancing guidelines and designated to specific bubbles.

Colchester United’s Community Development Manager Tom Tayler says the camp is proving a big hit.

He said: “We’re delighted with the numbers.

“Looking at the list of families, we know that there’s doctors at the hospital, firefighters, police officers so being able to do this so that they can go and do their job is what’s great.

“It’s not only for the children to have a good time and be social but also for the wider community of Colchester, it means these people can get on with their jobs - and they’re pretty integral jobs at the moment.

“We’re trying to place an onus not just on football but on well-being and getting them interacting.

“Some of these young people may not have interacted with others for a long time, apart from school and even then there might not be people who go to mainstream schools.”


Colchester United Football in the Community have also this week been assisting in delivering food parcels and activity packs to those on free school meals, in conjunction with Essex County Council and Active Essex.

They have reached out to more than 160 families, in different towns and Tayler believes the campaign led by Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford to combat child hunger has heightened awareness of the need for food parcels.

“A lot of the people at the moment can’t come out or haven’t got the confidence to come out but it doesn’t mean that they don’t need that food parcel for example,” said Tayler.

“We’ve been working in this area for four or five years but since Marcus Rashford has come on the scene, he’s really endorsed it.

“I think it’s raised the profile of it as an issue, especially when you look at the images of what people were getting for a £30 parcel which was scandalous, really.

“You can really see that there’s some weight behind the movement coming from councils and other organisations.

“I think the families have always been out there but they perhaps find it a little bit easier to speak out now and maybe there’s less stigma around needing a food parcel which I think is really important.

“There’s nothing worse than thinking that there’s people that need it who don’t feel like they can speak out because they’re embarrassed or because they don’t want to.

“It’s been a really good take up in this period, not just for us but across the board.

“The quality of the stuff we’ve got is great and the families are delighted.”

The huge impact Colchester United Football in the Community has had during the pandemic was further highlighted this week, following the unveiling of their Community Impact Report.

During 2020, more than 250,000 engagements with participants were carried out and over £650,000 of financial investment was put into the local community.

Tayler added: “Hopefully, the work we’re doing reflects well on the football club and from our point of view, we have such a great relationship with the club.

“There’s a lot of staff who work for both the football club and the charity.

“We’ve got ex-youth team players who work for us now, as a community organisation and our trustees, we’ve got the chairman, Tim Waddington and Jon De Souza.

“There’s such a good link now between us as a community and the football club that it makes it really easy.

“We carry the badge of the football club – that’s who we are and part of our mission is to represent the club positively and try and engage young people in the football club, at any early age.”

To view the Community Impact Report, go to