Edge Hill last night (Wednesday 4 October) won the ‘Cross-Sector Partnership Award’ at this year’s Charity Times Awards for its pioneering sport and mental health work with Everton in the Community (EitC) and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Since partnering with Everton FC’s official charity in 2013, the University has launched a number of research-led programmes including Tackling the Blues, a pioneering early intervention which uses sport and education to help children with, or at risk of, mental illness.

Other programmes include the Sport England and National Lottery funded Active Blues project, to encourage men aged 35-50 to get active and improve their physical and mental health issues.

The partnership has also led to a number of invitations from policy makers, practitioners and researchers to share best practice and research including invitations from the UK Parliament’s Health Select Committee and the International Olympic Committee.

Andy Smith, Professor of Sport and Physical Activity at Edge Hill University, said:

“I’m delighted that we won the award and that we were the only University in Europe to be shortlisted. This follows on from our prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) Award last year where we picked up the ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community Award’ for Tackling the Blues.

“This award is a major accolade in the charity sector and I’m delighted that we, along with Everton in The Community and Mersey Care NHS Trust have been recognised internationally for our work.”

He added: “As the academic partner of Everton in the Community and the only university to reach this year’s Charity Times Awards shortlist, we are delighted that the impact of Edge Hill’s research and commitment to improving the lives of others through our co-produced programmes continues to be recognised so prominently.

“We are also especially proud to be associated with the hugely impressive and innovative work that Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust does as we work collaboratively, across the sectors, to tackle some of the most pressing social and health challenges of the twenty-first century.”

The Charity Times Cross Sector Partnership Award recognises partnerships which can prove their long-term impact and value for money.

Edge Hill was the only university to be nominated for an award recognizing its contribution to the co-design, delivery and evaluation of community based sport and health programmes.

Everton in the Community’s Director of Health and Sport, Michael Salla, said:

“Our pioneering provision to tackle social, health and economic challenges facing Merseyside would not be possible without high-quality, cross-sector partnerships.

“Our long-standing collaboration with Edge Hill University and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust has led to the development of an innovative sport, physical activity and mental health programme covering the entire life-course.”