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Four people stand in a row with a sponsorship banner behind them at the opening of The People's Place.

News story

World-leading Edge Hill research underpins “unique” new mental health and wellbeing hub

March 9, 2023

World-leading Edge Hill University research is underpinning a “unique” new mental health and wellbeing hub, the first of its kind to be attached to a Premier League football club.

The multi-million-pound People’s Place in Liverpool is the latest addition to the Goodison Campus, a series of buildings and services run by Everton Football Club’s charitable arm Everton in the Community (EitC), a long-standing Edge Hill partner. The hub was opened by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham on Tuesday. 

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham talks into a microphone with the People's Place sponsorship board behind him and an audience in front.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham gave a talk at the opening of the People’s Place.

The hub adopts a unique “one-stop shop” approach, grounded in the findings of research carried out by Edge Hill academics providing a blueprint for future community mental health and wellbeing services. 

Research team lead Professor Andy Smith said:

“This hub really is unique. It focuses on the integration of mental and physical health care through place-based partnerships which enable us to deliver community mental health and wellbeing provision differently, and focus on how we can better support people to stay well in their communities rather than them relying on the NHS. 

“Our research has shown this approach is important in supporting everybody, but particularly those who experience greatest disadvantage. The People’s Place will have a direct impact on the people who live close to the ground but also more widely across the city region. 

“We are trying to do something different with our research-led approach. Our focus is not just on the impact of individual programmes or services, important though that is. Rather, by using real time evidence on the benefits of the services and programmes delivered in the People’s Place, we will explore how its hub and spoke model can deliver clinical and non-clinical outcomes, for multiple health conditions, through new ways of working across multiple sectors.” 

Professor Andy Smith stands in front of a promotional People's Place banner and behind a lectern, holding a microphone.
Professor Andy Smith represented the Edge Hill research team at the launch of Everton in the Community’s People’s Place.

The People’s Place, described by Everton in the Community as “a future-proof concept” and “a beacon of hope in the heart of the community”, will provide an extensive range of activities with a focus on physical activity to improve mental health. 

A range of community-based programmes will be delivered from the centre, including Tackling the Blues, a multi-award-winning sport and arts-based mental health and wellbeing programme for children and young people, run in partnership between Edge Hill, EitC and Tate Liverpool. 

Clinical and non-clinical services will also be on offer including community groups, GPs, mental health nurses and counsellors, dementia and diabetes clinics and health screening, in collaboration with regional NHS health providers and the third sector. 

Dr Chris Pritchard, who has been working with Everton in the Community for four years as a resident GP, commended the Edge Hill team for their “excellent” research which he said will ensure People’s Place service users “gain significant improvement to their own health” and “feel empowered to be advocates in helping others”.  

“We know that poor physical health has an impact on poor mental health,” he added. “So our projects will look at addressing that by ensuring both are treated with equal importance.” 

The Edge Hill research team – Professor Andy Smith, Dr David Haycock, Dr Tom Duffell and Ruby Fletcher – have worked closely with The People’s Place to inform and shape the fully-integrated provision on offer and they will continue to assess the impact as the hub develops. 

PhD student Ruby led work on understanding local need by working with public health commissioners, funders, policy makers and service users across the Liverpool City Region and at a national level. 

She said:

“Our research has highlighted the need for fully-integrated, holistic mental and physical health support for the community. We will continue to conduct cutting edge research on the contribution the hub makes to some of the most pressing social and health challenges in our communities. 

“We will monitor the impact on the health and wellbeing of those who attend and how the hub can positively impact their lives and prevent them from becoming dependent on the NHS.” 

Edge Hill’s undergraduate and postgraduate students will be able to engage with the People’s Place as part of their courses and for work placements and voluntary opportunities.

March 9, 2023


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