Saffron Walden Town Football Club moves to help refugees

Saffron Walden Town goalkeeper, Floyd Croll in action. Picture: Celia Bartlett Photography

Saffron Walden Town goalkeeper, Floyd Croll in action. Picture: Celia Bartlett Photography - Credit: Celia Bartlett Photography

Saffron Walden Town football club members are spearheading efforts to help refugees who have fled conflict to The Jungle camp at Calais.

Goalkeeper Floyd Croll, 27, watched the images unfolding and knew he had to do something to help.

So he loaded up his car with 15 footballs and two bags of food and headed out to France.

And when club chairman Martin Johnson heard about Floyd’s actions he wanted the club to also get involved.

Board members were supportive so Martin reached out to the British Red Cross refugee appeal.

As a result, the club has set up a donations page at www.justgiving.com/Martin-Johnson22 and has already raised over £200 of their £500 target, including a bucket collection among fans at the match against Haverhill Rovers on Tuesday night.

And they are looking to organise a live music event, while the youth section is hoping to organise a collection of items that could be donated, potentially from lost property from the soccer school that has remained unclaimed.

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Speaking of his experiences at Calais, goalkeeper and student Floyd said the three day visit had been an eye-opener.

“Walking in and opening the bags I was mobbed. Within one minute everything had gone.”

Floyd stayed and played football with men in their 20s and 30s, who despite the stony ground had bare feet and flipflops and whose football games were being played with a relatively flat ball.

Floyd said his Calais team mates were friendly and had a surprisingly amount of energy, given that they are surviving on just one meal a day. Some have been in the camp for several months.

“The reason I wanted to go over there is that they are in a really bad situation. The only thing I know how to do is use sport as a bit of a distraction.”

Floyd said he wants to go back out to help again in the future.

“They were the friendliest people I have met. There have been a lot of reports saying this and that but I have walked through that camp and there was no animosity, no threat, no danger to myself.”

Floyd, who lives in Bury St Edmunds, said what had surprised him was that there were not more support people visiting he saw only 10 volunteers and one policeman watching over the camp.

“I would be very keen to go back out there,” he added.

“The phrase that made me go was ‘this is the biggest movement of people since World War Two’.”

Meanwhile, Uttlesford District Council will hold an Extraordinary meeting on Wednesday, September 16 at 7.30pm to discuss its response to the Syrian crisis and the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons.

Councillor Howard Rolfe, leader of the council, said: “We have all been shocked by the scale of the crisis and the plight of those fleeing war and persecution.

“Uttlesford has a long and proud history of accepting refugees and welcoming them into our community, and this situation will be no different.

“We must be ready to play our part, and to work with other organisations and authorities, in supporting those refugees welcomed into Britain.

“The Prime Minister has set out the scale of the issue and we now await further information from the Government on how it will put its plans in place.”

The meeting was triggered by six signatures from R4U (Residents For Uttlesford) who asked for a review of the council’s preparedness and plans for dealing with the refugee situation.

The six signatures were from councillors John Lodge, Barbara Light, Heather Asker the Mayor of Saffron Walden, Paul Fairhurst, Richard Freeman and Sharon Morris.