The charity's 'Blue Family' have been a lifeline for the most vulnerable people in lockdown
There’s no better example of people power than getting together at a local level to tackle an issue at the heart of the community. When COVID-19 halted much of Everton in the Community’s traditional face-to-face support, the charity’s volunteers stepped up to provide vital aid and assistance to individuals and families across Liverpool.
The inequality gap - especially in terms of education and mental health - is widening
The official charity of Everton Football Club created the Blue Family initiative at the beginning of the first lockdown, to help combat social isolation and give much-needed support to some of society’s most vulnerable people.
Volunteers helped to deliver essential food shops to those in need as well as supporting the charity’s Blue Buddy scheme which provides regular phone calls to people who are socially isolated or lonely.
Everton supporters contributed more than £400,000 through the Season Ticket refund process when matches were played behind closed doors - a figure matched by the owner, Farhad Moshiri and chairman, Bill Kenwright - while local businesses donated in excess of £200,000 worth of laptops, clothes, and toys to families.
Set up in 1988, Everton in the Community runs more than 40 social programmes to tackle a range of issues, including mental health, employment, education, poverty and disability.
The charity now has more than 250 active volunteers who collectively contribute more than 10,000 hours of volunteer time to their local community each year by supporting the delivery of the wider programme and assisting with fundraising opportunities.
Volunteers even took part in a social action outreach project in Nakuru, Kenya, helping to renovate two primary schools as well as funding and installing a water pump for the village.
Highest award from The Queen
In recognition of the impact across Liverpool and beyond, Everton in the Community has been awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK. Created in 2002 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee, the Queen’s Award recognises outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities.
Recipients are announced each year on 2 June, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation, and highlight the key role that volunteers play in times of rapid change and challenges. This year’s winners include volunteer groups from across the UK, including an inclusive tennis club in Lincolnshire; a children’s bereavement charity in London; a volunteer minibus service in Cumbria; a community radio station in Inverness and a mountain rescue team in Powys.
National Volunteers' Week
The announcement coincides with National Volunteers’ Week in the UK and Everton in the Community can proudly say that they’re the only Premier League charitable arm to be given the Queen’s Award this year.
Volunteer manager Adam Howard said: “We are honoured to have been granted The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and it is testament to the hard work and unwavering commitment that our volunteers give to our charity day-in day-out.
“Volunteering is a vital component of all that Everton in the Community is and does and quite simply, we wouldn’t be where we are today without the contribution of our amazing volunteers and our volunteer team.”
Blue Family was initially launched as a temporary measure, but a year on and the services are still running, from welfare calls made by staff and players, to emergency food parcel deliveries.
Richard Kenyon, Everton in the Community’s CEO, said that they will continue to develop new programmes to meet the evolving needs of some of the community’s most at-risk and under-privileged.
“As the whole country continues to reflect on the last 12 months, how the world has changed and what the future holds, it is heart-warming to look at how our fans and local businesses demonstrated real community spirit and generosity,” Richard said.
“Due to the pandemic, the inequality gap - especially in terms of education and mental health - is widening. But, we are passionate about helping to close this gap and enhance the lives of those in our community, so we’re looking forward to pressing ahead with ambitious and innovative programmes to make sure this happens.”
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