ON THE BALL: Since the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017, Eartha Pond has worked tirelessly for justice for both victims and survivors of the tragedy
FORMER TOTTENHAM Hotspurs player, Eartha Pond, has been instrumental in major fundraising efforts for the victims of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire.
After raising over £120,000, Eartha says she has only just got started with her campaign. Life & Style caught up with her to talk about her latest project Prom 8 and her continued support for Grenfell…
Life & Style: Firstly, well done on your amazing efforts for the victims of the Grenfell fire. What drove you to start fundraising?
Eartha Pond: Like everyone across the world, I woke up in the early hours on June 14, 2017 and watched Grenfell Tower burning.
The media coverage was non-stop, and for me, it was evident survivors would have nothing with them and would require funds/support.
Having seen and heard of people raising money for a range of causes via crowdfunding, I logged on and mocked up a page using an image I found online. I just wanted to help in any capacity I could.
L&S: How did you raise the money?
EP: Combining the total from crowdfunding, events such as Songs and Solidarity – Led by Giles Terera and Danielle Tarento, FA Women’s National League’s Annual Charity Match donations, School Sports Day Fundraiser @ The Crest Academy – are examples of initiatives I embarked on.
L&S: Do you know anyone that was directly involved in the fire?
EP: Yes. One of my best friends from school’s sister lived in Grenfell Tower with her family. Her uncle also lived there. The events at Grenfell impacted her family massively, with her sister being one of the last people rescued from the tower. Unfortunately, her uncle did not make it out from his flat further up.
L&S: What do you think needs to be done?
EP: The government’s immediate response was non-existent! Change has to take place and recommendations actioned to avoid anything similar happening again in the UK.
Alongside that, we have to ensure we have a clear and transparent public inquiry/investigation to establish the truth.
In the meantime, key aspects, such as health concerns, need to be thoroughly investigated and tracked sophisticatedly, cutting no corners. Testing so far has been far from acceptable, including the toxicity testing of the local and surrounding communities.
As time goes on, we need to ensure we keep the bereaved, survivors and community members impacted, at the forefront. Ongoing support is what is needed, using a variety of techniques that match the individual.
L&S: In terms of Grenfell, do you have any more charity projects in the pipeline?
EP: Well, after football, my next favourite thing is music! Anyone that knows me will tell you I am a fan of all genres and love a good sing along.
On the day of the Grenfell tragedy, I actually tweeted my local football club, QPR, to see if we could hold a music concert to raise funds for the bereaved and survivors. I’m still waiting for a response. So, if there are any major productions team or major record labels interested, I would love to work with you to host a music concert! I’m thinking big now. How about Wembley? I would love to have a concert at our national stadium, so I’m putting it out there hoping the universe does its thing. A celebration of all types of music and the best musicians from across the world, to celebrate the diversity of our country that reflects the makeup of residents from Grenfell Tower. Let’s make it happen!
L&S: What can we expect from you in the future on a personal level?
EP: Having successfully piloted my initiative with my pupils, with support from social influencers last year (thank you, Fredo and Abracadabra), it was evident that if we focus on pupils making progress, rather than just on attainment data, we get better results. So I am launching a new programme for schools called Prom 8. This allows schools to be inclusive for all pupils, regardless of their entry points, alongside working to improving their Progress 8 score. The programme focuses on improving eight key aspects, which include improving students attendance; creating an inclusive platform to celebrate all; improving parental engagement; closing the gap on academic attainment; improving student leadership; engaging NEETs, developing student engagement with personal data and breeding motivation – and allowing pupils to smile!
The programme allows pupils to be recognised each month for their efforts, through nominations from teachers, mentors, parents and peers. This helps to build a cohesive network of individuals, supporting and working collectively throughout the academic year.
So, any celebrities that want to support young people within education, it would be fantastic to have your support. But also, any corporate companies or individual sponsors that would like to support our youth, let’s get you on board!
My dream would be to collaborate with Stormzy on this programme!
He just understands the need for breaking barriers, rather than the wants, and clearly understands the benefits of being educated – not just academically. Anyone that can make it happen, I’m ready and waiting!
Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.