Sunday 21 January 2018

Bertrand doing all he can to make difference after Grenfell Tower tragedy

Southampton's Ryan Bertrand. Photo: Stephen Pond/Getty Images
Southampton's Ryan Bertrand. Photo: Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Miguel Delaney

Ryan Bertrand has immersed himself in the process of helping victims from the Grenfell Tower tragedy, as the England international spoke candidly about how it has affected him.

The Southampton full-back grew up in Southwark but having lived in a similar tower block and spent so much time in south-west London too, said that the June disaster particularly "struck a nerve".

That led to the 28-year-old wanting to use his profile as a footballer to help the victims' situation.

"Over the last few years, there have been catastrophes everywhere, but that was on our doorstep nearby," Bertrand explained.

"I just wanted to do something more. I had friends who grew up in similar circumstances, so it hit me.

"I had a few friends from the estate, so we wanted to see what we could do.

"I went down to the estate to ask questions, see how things were going, get a feel for it and see what I could do to make a difference.

"We're in the process of seeing if we can do a few things, and I don't want to say too much. But things are on-going.

Blocking

"It was a bit out of control. There was no main structure when I was down there. That was blocking things. No one knew who to go to, who was dealing with this or that.

"It struck a nerve. Growing up in similar tower blocks when I was a kid, albeit in different areas of London, it was somewhere close by.

"I'm in a half-decent position so maybe I could do more than just donate. Donating is great - I'm not saying that's a bad thing - but I took a bit of time and went down there hoping to try and change something, even if it was one family's lives. It can be life-changing.

"I grew up in south-east London, Southwark, so not right there but I spent a good few years in south-west London and I'm familiar with the territory.

"Most families - my Nan, my aunties - still live in tower blocks... They love it. It's home."

Bertrand also said he realised that one of the advantages of being a footballer is that his visibility and profile could help with efforts.

"That's exactly what I thought. I'm not saying 'I'm Ryan Bertrand flying in to see what I could do'. I'm not the biggest footballer in the world. But I have some sort of status so I just wanted to see what I could do to help… that was the main idea. To do more. A little bit more.

"This came up and resonated with me. I thought I could do more." (© Independent News Service).

Independent News Service

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