Everton legend Ian Snodin (centre) joins pupils from St. John’s Primary School for a Tackling the Blues session

Everton legend Ian Snodin went back to school this week to support Tackling the Blues, the award-winning project run by Edge Hill University, Everton in the Community (EitC) and Tate Liverpool which uses sport and the arts to help schoolchildren at risk of developing mental health problems. 

The 57-year-old was at St. John’s Primary School in Southport, one of a number of schools supported by the project which is being featured as part of this week’s national MadeAtUni campaign highlighting the role universities play in supporting their local communities and their health and wealth recovery from the impact of Covid. 

The project so far has reached over 2,000 pupils across the Northwest region, combining classroom well-being mentoring sessions with sport, physical activity and the arts to contribute to the prevention and early intervention of mental health problems in children and young people. Student mentors from Edge Hill University deliver the sessions in schools, helping to support their employability opportunities after graduating. 

Throughout this school year, Tackling the Blues has held virtual online sessions with schools in response to growing concerns about pupils’ well-being during lockdown but returned to the classrooms across the region during April. 

The programme also responded with delivering one day Tackling the Blues inputs to reach new schools – just in time for the end of term. Snodin, who is an Everton Ambassador took part in special end of term sports day celebration with pupils from the school and staff from Edge Hill and EitC. 

Said Snodin of his visit to the project: “I loved it and I’ve missed being able to do this sort of thing. I’ve got grandchildren myself, so I know how difficult it’s been for these children over the last year or so because they’re used to going to school and being with their friends. 

“It’s been tough for them being at home during the lockdowns, so for Everton in the Community, Edge Hill University and Tate Liverpool to have come together like this to help them during those times and now be able to get back in the classroom with them is fantastic. From the minute we walked in you could see the smile on their faces.” 

Leah, 10, who took part in the session, said: “I really like being part of Tackling the Blues, the mentors are amazing. My favourite part is the PE sessions because I love doing sport even though sometimes, I might not win. Being around a famous ex- Everton footballer was great because I support Everton. Most people in my family support Everton as well so I can’t wait to tell them.

“We do lots of mental health and well-being as well as the sport. It’s really helped build up my confidence, and helped me to talk to new people.” 

Emily McCurrie, Partnership Development & Engagement Manager at Edge Hill University, project manages Tackling the Blues said: “It was fantastic to be here and see the project in action with the children and the mentors from the University. To have Ian here to support the day has been brilliant and to see all the hard work that Everton in the Community, the University and Tate Liverpool put in, and the impact it has on the children is great. 

“Having the three different partners delivering the project brings a number of benefits in terms of helping the schools to tackle mental health with the children, and it’s brilliant to see it all come together. The children are learning how to deal with their emotions and this, along with helping their mental health literacy, is so important especially with everything that’s happened in the last year.

“There is often a perception that universities exist separately from their communities but projects like Tackling the Blues show that isn’t the case.” 

For more information on Tackling the Blues visit their website. To find out more about MadeAtUni visit made@uni.org.