UK cops take time off for SA kids

22 June 2010

A team of police officers from the United Kingdom have taken time out of their policing duties at the 2010 Fifa World Cup™ to support a local charity.

A team of 12 officers being led by the Association of Chief Police Officers and representing forces across the country, including the Metropolitan Police and the UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU), are in South Africa for the month-long football tournament.

According to a statement by the Metropolitan Police last week, the team had already made their policing presence felt after being deployed in uniform during England’s first group match against the USA in Rustenburg.

However, on 16 June, they took time out from their policing commitments to meet local children from an orphanage in Eikenhof, 20km outside of Johannesburg.

UKFPU co-ordinator Tony Conniford said officers had approached local football clubs before the trip to ask them to donate goods to be given to South African children in need.

New football kits

The officers yesterday handed out kit from Stoke City, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tranmere Rovers, Newcastle United and Shrewsbury Town to more than 30 children at the TLC orphanage.

The orphanage, which was set up over 17 years ago, cares for 70 children from birth to 17. It is one of the few orphanages in South Africa that takes on children with disabilities and more than 10% of its children are HIV positive.

“I had the honour of meeting people associated with the TLC orphanage last year when we were working out logistics during the Confederation Cup,” said Conniford in the statement. “Through the FA and the UK Football Supporters Federation we were able to link up with two English volunteers who were working at the centre.

“I knew when we came back for the World Cup that we needed to do something for these kids.”

Volunteers, adoptive parents

The orphanage is run by a small team of volunteers, many of whom have adopted children themselves. Pippa Jarvis, whose mother founded the centre, has nine children, recently adopting a small baby with HIV.

“Most of them have been abandoned, some left in fields and the work done here to care for them and get them adopted is just amazing. Doing this today is just a world away from the work we’ve been doing here around the World Cup and it really just brings you back down to earth.”

Several of the UK officers visiting the centre said it was a “humbling experience”, and they were delighted by seeing the joy and excitement on the faces of the children as they received their new football kits.

“Visiting a place like this just makes you realise how fortunate we are and how lucky my own children are,” said Metropolitan Police sergeant Mark Carroll. “To see the faces of young kids with a smile despite having very little is something I won’t forget in a long time.

“To bring some enjoyment into their lives was a real treat.”

SAinfo reporter

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