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flourishing partnership between Edge Hill University and Everton Football Club’s official charity, Everton in the Community, is already yielding many benefits for both the University and people living across Merseyside. The partnership will include exclusive opportunities for undergraduates, postgraduates and staff as well as community engagement activities and volunteering opportunities.

Everton in the Community is a leading sporting charity which runs a number of award-winning programmes promoting health, education, employment and equality of opportunity across Merseyside. The charity currently supports 1,500 local charities a year and in 2013 it was chosen by the Prime Minister to win 2013’s Big Society award.

One part of this partnership was launched on Tuesday 18 February when Edge Hill PhD researcher Laura Houghton started the People’s Family Project, an in-depth investigation into the physical activity of children living in the Everton area of Liverpool. The project began with a Family Fun Day on Goodison Road where children enjoyed various activities delivered by Everton in the Community staff and Edge Hill University students including; target competitions, drawing, arts and crafts and face paints. The study will form part of Laura’s doctorate, exploring how family structure affects the health of young people and ways in which health can be improved.

Find out more about Everton in the Community here.

Innovative children’s mental health programme wins top award

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A programme combining emoji bingo and sport to tackle children’s mental health across Merseyside, last night (Thursday 24 November) won a prestigious award.

Tackling the Blues (TtB), an early intervention programme for children in Merseyside’s most disadvantaged areas has been recognised for its Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community’ at the Times Higher Education Awards.

The programme, launched by Edge Hill University in partnership with Everton in the Community, the official charity of Everton Football Club, uses sport and education to help children aged six to 16-years-old with, or at risk of mental health issues.

Emoji bingo, peer mentoring and physical activities are used to increase self-esteem and reduce anxiety in children whilst helping them build positive relationships with peers and external agencies.

The award judges said the programme “has been selected as a national case exemplar” and has “in the view of educational and health professionals, made a positive contribution in this challenging area.”

They also said it was “remarkable” that more than 95% of participants have continued with the programme over 15 months.

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

“We’re delighted that over two years’ research-led work, supported by our students and longstanding partnership with Everton in the Community, has been recognised for its impact on and contribution to our local communities, especially children and young people with mental illness.

“Tackling the Blues is a strong partnership which has been recognised by our peers as demonstrating just what impact can be achieved if universities like Edge Hill, together with other educational institutions and the sport and health sector, work collaboratively to address issues which are of international concern.”

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Andy and his colleague Jonathan Jones collected their award at the ceremony in London, beating strong competition from universities across England and Wales.

Andy said:

“We launched TtB in response to the very significant mental health problems facing young people. Eight in ten are not accessing mental health services, others have to wait nine months to access support.

“Inequality and deprivation are high in the North West and TtB operates in areas ranked amongst the 85% most disadvantaged areas of the country. Our early intervention programme tackles a variety of mental illness from depression and anxiety to eating disorders and anger-management. Without TtB many young people would just slip through the net.”

Volunteer students from Edge Hill’s Department of Sport and Physical Activity and Faculty of Education are trained in internationally accredited mental health qualifications to deliver weekly sessions in schools, acting as mentors to the young people.

Jon Jones, Edge Hill Project Lead for TtB, said:

“Operating across nine secondary schools and two young carer groups, the sessions mix sport and physical activity with educational workshops on topics such as stigma, bullying and emotions where ‘emoji bingo’ is used to encourage children to talk about their feelings. Delivering activities that children can relate to has allowed us to start informal discussions around mental health whilst maintaining their engagement and enjoyment.”

Conor, 13, a pupil at Hillside High School in Bootle, said:

“TtB helps me with my feelings and doing sport. If I felt down or upset or was angry in other lessons I knew I could talk about it and I don’t really get angry anymore.”

Fellow pupil, Nathan, 13, said:

“TtB teaches you how mental health affects people and how you can overcome it. Sometimes I felt upset but I spoke to people in school and my parents. Now if I feel angry I walk away from it. I’m also helping the Year 7s teaching them about mental health.”

Chrissie Doran, Progress Leader for Years 7 and 8 at Hillside High School, added:

“TtB is really helping. We’ve see our students learn new skills, make new friends and they access support from different types of people making them feel more confident and better about themselves. Students on TtB are more likely to come to school, take part in school life and are generally more engaged and communicative.”

The volunteers are assisted by mentors and coaches from Everton’s official charity to maximise the impact of the brand of the Club which has helped recruit and retain 95% of young people over the last 15 months.

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

“TtB is part of our wider work in the community promoting health and wellbeing. One of the key areas is mental health and we’ve found football is a highly effective engagement tool to reach people who wouldn’t normally engage. Once they’re involved in a programme we can start a conversation with them, help tackle the stigma and work alongside partners such as the NHS and other agencies where appropriate.”

Charles Knight, a Senior Lecturer in Business and Management at Edge Hill University was shortlisted in the Most Innovative Teacher of the Year category.

Top award nomination for innovative children’s mental health project

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A new programme combining emoji bingo and sport to tackle children’s mental health across Merseyside has been shortlisted for a top award.

Tackling the Blues (TtB), an early intervention programme targeting six to 16-year-olds in Merseyside’s most disadvantaged areas has been shortlisted at this year’s Times Higher Education Awards.

The programme, launched by Edge Hill University in partnership with Everton in the Community, the official charity of Everton Football Club, uses sport and education to help children with, or at risk of mental health issues.

Emoji bingo, peer mentoring and physical activities are used to increase self-esteem and reduce anxiety in children whilst helping them build positive relationships with peers and external agencies.

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

Andy Smith“We launched TtB in response to the very significant mental health problems facing young people. Eight in ten are not accessing mental health services, others have to wait nine months to access support.

“Inequality and deprivation are high in the North West and TtB operates in areas ranked amongst the 85% most disadvantaged areas of the country. Our early intervention programme tackles a variety of mental illness from depression and anxiety to eating disorders and anger-management. Without TtB many young people would just slip through the net.”

Volunteer students from Edge Hill’s Department of Sport and Physical Activity and Faculty of Education are trained in internationally accredited mental health qualifications to deliver weekly sessions in schools, acting as mentors to the young people.

Jon Jones, Edge Hill Project Lead for TtB, said:

“Operating across nine secondary schools and two young carer groups, the sessions mix sport and physical activity with educational workshops on topics such as stigma, bullying and emotions where ‘emoji bingo’ is used to encourage children to talk about their feelings. Delivering activities that children can relate to has allowed us to start informal discussions around mental health whilst maintaining their engagement and enjoyment.”

Conor, 13, a pupil at Hillside High School in Bootle, said:

“TtB helps me with my feelings and doing sport. If I felt down or upset or was angry in other lessons I knew I could talk about it and I don’t really get angry anymore.”

Fellow pupil, Nathan, 13, said:

“TtB teaches you how mental health affects people and how you can overcome it. Sometimes I felt upset but I spoke to people in school and my parents. Now if I feel angry I walk away from it. I’m also helping the Year 7s teaching them about mental health.”

Chrissie Doran, Progress Leader for Years 7 and 8 at Hillside High School, added:

“TtB is really helping. We’ve see our students learn new skills, make new friends and they access support from different types of people making them feel more confident and better about themselves. Students on TtB are more likely to come to school, take part in school life and are generally more engaged and communicative.”

The volunteers are assisted by mentors and coaches from Everton’s official charity to maximise the impact of the brand of the Club which has helped recruit and retain 95% of young people over the last 15 months.

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

“TtB is part of our wider work in the community promoting health and wellbeing. One of the key areas is mental health and we’ve found football is a highly effective engagement tool to reach people who wouldn’t normally engage. Once they’re involved in a programme we can start a conversation with them, help tackle the stigma and work alongside partners such as the NHS and other agencies where appropriate.”

TtB has been shortlisted in the Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community Category in the Times Higher Education Awards. The winner will be announced in London on 24 November.

Charles Knight, a Senior Lecturer in Business and Management at Edge Hill University has also been shortlisted in the Most Innovative Teacher of the Year category.

Ground breaking collaboration between Edge Hill and Everton in the Community

everton1A ground-breaking collaboration between Edge Hill University and Everton in the Community,which will benefit the local community through research-led projects and student academic placements, has been officially launched.

The exclusive five-year partnership will focus on numerous student-led initiatives in the areas of public health and physical activity, sport policy and community sport development with the objective of overcoming a variety of social challenges facing those across Merseyside on a daily basis.

At any one time, 30 students from the University work on the project. This gives real experience of working with the charity of a Premier League football club but also of community projects which will help students gain graduate level employment following their degree.

Since September 2013, the official charity of Everton Football Club has been working with Edge Hill University students to engage families living within a one mile radius of Goodison Park to explore how family structure influences health behaviour with a project being delivered based on families’ needs and desires.

Dr Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Chief Executive Officer for Everton in the Community, said: “This innovative partnership is testament to our hard work to link strategically with our regional academic institutions. Joining forces with a fantastic academic university like Edge Hill will enable Everton in the Community to bring global exposure, research and academic validation to our schemes from leading authorities in the different social themes in which our charity works.”

Michael Salla, Health and Wellbeing Manager of Everton in the Community, added: “The level of commitment dedicated to this collaboration is a unique approach for a club community scheme and will considerably scale up our pioneering ability to tackle social issues across Merseyside.”

In the last decade, over £180million has been invested in the Ormskirk campus including a £30million investment in indoor and outdoor sports facilities and a further £200million has been earmarked for future campus developments to ensure that Edge Hill university provides state-of-the-art facilities amongst the very best available in higher education. The partnership between the University and the Club’s official charity will see these facilities accessible to Everton in the Community in the future.

Dr John Cater, Vice-Chancellor of Edge Hill University said: “We are delighted to be able to work in partnership with Everton in the Community – the official Charity of Everton Football Club – and together not only deliver such significant projects in the local community, but also provide our students with the type of placement and voluntary work that will provide essential experience to help them gain graduate jobs.

“The project will make a real difference to people’s lives, whilst allowing us to bring three areas of research together, public health and physical activity, sports policy and community sport development.”

Established in 1988, Everton in the Community is firmly established on the world stage of community sports development and is one of the Premier League’s leading community schemes due to the quality and reach of its various programmes.

For the past 26 years the official charity of Everton Football Club has been at the forefront of social intervention across Merseyside, not afraid to tackle issues which others shied away from.