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Southend United’s community trust launches an appeal after fire causes damage at Roots Hall

CEO Dale Spiby is appealing for help after seeing his plans for a community corner go up in flames at Roots Hall.

Southend United Community & Educational Trust had ploughed close to £100,000 into the area of the car park which suffered severe fire damage earlier this week.

But Spiby, the Trust’s chief executive, has launched a JustGiving page in a bid to enable the necessary repairs to take place.

“I want to call on the community and businesses to give to the club, to the town and Trust with this,” said Spiby, who hopes to raise at least £50,000.

“People will look at this being the football club that’s been hurt but in reality it’s the charity that’s been damaged.

“The charity has worked hard before the pandemic and during it to put something in place for the community for after the pandemic but that’s been ruined now.”

Damaged - the corner of the car park at Roots Hall which set fire
Ruined – extensive damage caused by the blaze.

The Trust had already launched seven initiatives in the now ruined area including gym sessions, traineeships and schemes to tackle loneliness and mental health issues.

The corner of the car park was also to act as a fan engagement area on matchdays with live music, gaming stations, wellbeing sessions and birthday packages. But those plans are now back to square one, much to the frustration of Spiby.

“We’ve spent the last two years building a facility that’s equipped to moving us forward after the pandemic, “said Spiby.

“We wanted to use that area seven days a week as a community facility and have something going on there every day.

“We wanted to get local singers in and make it a great area on matchdays for fans to create a good atmosphere too.

“It would make for much better experience for everyone and this is a real blow.

“We estimate we’ve put around £100,000 into the area in the past two years and it was almost ready to go.

“We were about to put the Astroturf down and it was ready so we’re really disappointed.”

Destroyed – the damaged area.

And it was that Astroturf which was at the heart of Monday’s fire which Spiby believes was started deliberately.

“The irony is we think it’s youngsters who have broken into the car park and made a fire but they’ve destroyed a facility that was to stop them being bored and to get them off the streets,” said Spiby.

“We’re determined to get the area back to what it was but it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of help.

“It any local tradesmen or women were able to lend their help and support that would also be greatly appreciated.”

The JustGiving page can be found here

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