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Tackling the blues

Everton in the community

Since 2013, Edge Hill has partnered with Everton in the Community (EitC), the official charity of Everton football club. The partnership is designed to improve the lives of people who live in some of the most socially and economically deprived communities in the UK while enhancing the employability of our sport and physical activity students.

To date, the collaboration has enabled hundreds of sport and physical activity students to participate in a range of sport, education and health projects as part of their academic studies, on year-long placements or as volunteers. There are a range of opportunities to get involved with, from working with children and young people, to older people living with dementia, and those who are at risk of poor mental health. Students who get involved with these projects have a real positive impact on those in their local communities, working with people across Merseyside and Lancashire.

As well as opportunities to undertake their own research and complete work placements or volunteer with EitC, staff also deliver guest lectures, mentor students, and host activities as part of our students’ academic lessons off campus at EitC. This is a great opportunity for students to find out more about what they do, and how they can get more involved in the work of EitC to support their life-changing and life-saving work.

Tackling the blues

An image of a large group of people playing a game within the sports centre at Edge Hill

One of the projects we work on with EitC is our jointly delivered Tackling the Blues programme. This project aims to improve the mental health of young people aged 6-16 through sport, the arts, culture and education. Tackling the Blues teaches young people strategies for good mental and physical health, promote emotional literacy and improve self-esteem and confidence. To date, the programme has engaged with over 1,000 young people in primary schools, secondary schools and community groups, and in 2016 was the recipient of the prestigious Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community.

The success of the Tackling the Blues has continued to grow over recent years, and was shortlisted in the 2020 Sports Business Awards. Also in 2020, Edge Hill was awarded £527k by the Office for Students and Research England in recognition of the vital impact Tackling the Blues has on the student experience. With the extra funding, Tackling the Blues has expended and now includes arts and wellbeing activities delivered with Tate Liverpool and colleagues in our Faculty of Education – to give more students the opportunity to engage in real world learning, research and knowledge exchange activities related to mental health.

Andy Smith, Professor of Sport and Physical Activity at Edge Hill, is particularly proud of the success that Tackling the Blues has seen in recent years:

The funding boost will allow us to expand our activities with them and grow the arts and wellbeing activities. Crucially, it will enable us to increase students’ engagement in our research and knowledge exchange activities and provide them with unique opportunities to work with our partners to positively impact the lives of our communities.

Andy Smith
A group of people are talking.

My staff and I have been consistently impressed with the quality, enthusiasm and commitment of Edge Hill’s Sport and Physical Activity students when working with us to improve the lives of our local communities. They have been critical to the success of many of our programmes, including Tackling the Blues, where we have been able to support students to undertake paid, voluntary and placement work to obtain real world experience of working in sport, health and wellbeing. We have been so impressed with the quality of students who have worked with us that we now employ several of them, including in senior roles, across the organisation.

Michael Salla, Director of Health and Sport at Everton Football Club
An image of director of health and sport at Everton football club, Michael Salla

“My staff and I have been consistently impressed with the quality, enthusiasm and commitment of Edge Hill’s Sport and Physical Activity students when working with us to improve the lives of our local communities. They have been critical to the success of many of our programmes, including Tackling the Blues, where we have been able to support students to undertake paid, voluntary and placement work to obtain real world experience of working in sport, health and wellbeing. We have been so impressed with the quality of students who have worked with us that we now employ several of them, including in senior roles, across the organisation.”

Michael Salla, Director of Health and Sport at Everton Football Club

Transformational experiences

An image of a group of children stood in front of a person holding a trophy in the air

So how can students get involved with Tackling the Blues, and how can these opportunities boost employability and graduate outcomes? Students across all Sport and Physical Activity programmes are invited to work with Tackling the Blues, whether through a formal placement or voluntary experience. Over the years, a number of students have proven just how transformational it can be to work on the programme, both in terms of confidence and transferable skills.

To tell you more about how engaging with Everton in the Community can open the door to some fantastic career opportunities, we spoke to Aston Monro and James Ratcliffe. Both Aston and James have been working with the Tackling the Blues programme since their undergraduate degree at Edge Hill, and say that this has been key to their success.

An image of Aston Monro talking to two children, he's holding a sign that says "stressed" with an emoji on the sign.

Working with EitC gave me the opportunity to develop my knowledge of mental health programmes, such as Tackling the Blues and Everton’s Veteran’s Hub, and how these programmes undertake research to outline their effectiveness. This knowledge has been essential for securing a place on the MSc Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health at Edge Hill, as well as my graduate role at EitC. Being involved with the programme throughout my undergraduate degree helped me to develop skills including teamwork, communication and problem-solving. The staff at Edge Hill have been instrumental in supporting my learning throughout my time at the University, which has been invaluable to me in my studies and my career.

Aston Monro, Research Assistant at Everton in the Community
An image of James Ratcliffe, the co-coordinator for the tackling the blues programme.

“The experiences that I have gained with EitC have benefited my employability significantly. Working on the Tackling the Blues programme has enhanced my development throughout university by challenging me to develop and improve new and existing skills while providing essential experiences in the sporting industry. I believe my involvement with the programme has presented valuable experiences, skills and knowledge that I now implement in my current job role.”

James Ratcliffe, Tackling the Blues Programme Co-ordinator

July 8, 2022