The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, has nominated Everton in the Community to receive the Freedom of the City of Liverpool for their pioneering charity work.
The city’s highest civic honour is expected to be formally agreed on Wednesday 24 January, with the Freedom ceremony itself taking place later this year.
Everton in the Community (EitC) celebrates its 30th anniversary in February, and has spent three decades tackling key social issues to create stronger communities and help some of the most vulnerable in the Merseyside region.
It improves the lives of 20,000 people every year, supports more than 1,100 children through their school sports programme and more than 1,000 residents have been helped into work thanks to their employment support. In 2017 alone, over 100 young people have graduated from the charity’s Apprenticeship programme.
The charity set the bar nationally by employing a neighbourhood manager who works with residents and businesses in the ‘Blue Mile’ (a one mile radius around Goodison Park) being on hand to address any issues and ensure the area remains clean and tidy.
Other achievements include:
The charity’s Kicks programme has engaged with more than 7,000 young people in the last decade, and in 2017 reduced anti-social behaviour by 73% and crime rates by 75% in Merseyside during session times. Each year over 100 young people aged 19-25 years will volunteer and gain valuable work experience on the programme.
Everton were the first football club to open a Free School which aims to educate young people who have not adapted to mainstream education, giving them a second chance at further education, training and employment.
They are committed to tackling mental health issues and work with 500 people weekly in the local community and have supported 300 children who were potentially at risk of suffering with mental health problems.
Their work extends beyond the Merseyside region and operates internationally. EitC were the only Premier League representatives invited by Pope Francis to the Vatican in 2016 to share their best practice at the Papal Conference for Sport in Humanity.
Thanks to their work with the Royal British Legion in delivering ‘Knowsley Veterans Hub’, the lives of 400 veterans have been improved as they are encouraged to take part in sport, training and social activities.
EitC has delivered the National Citizen Service programme for a nearly five years, with over 600 young people graduating from the government initiative. The summer of 2017 saw the young people raise over £11,000 for local charities and completed 28,620 hours of volunteering.
Everton reached their fundraising target of £244,000 to build a shelter for young homeless people in Liverpool which saw David Unsworth and his Premier League 2 Champions sleep out at Goodison Park to help raise funds and experience what homeless people have to go through.
Mayor Anderson said: “Admitting an organisation to the Freedom Roll of Associations is the highest accolade we can bestow, and is reserved for only the most deserving of recipients.
“In 30 years, Everton in the Community has made a huge, tangible difference to the local community and is widely recognised as one of the UK’s top sporting charities.
“The list of achievements is outstanding. Whether it’s working with people with autism, raising funds to tackle homelessness, engaging with people of all ages or simply ensuring their community is clean and litter-free – their work and dedication has touched the lives of thousands.
“I’m delighted this important charity is set to be added to the Roll, and I’m sure whether you’re a Red or a Blue you will applaud the exceptional, life-changing work Everton in the Community is involved with each day.”
Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Everton in the Community Executive Chair, added: “For our charity to receive the Freedom of the City of Liverpool is the most wonderful accolade and it is testament to the hard work of all of our staff and volunteers.
”For almost 30 years we have been committed to helping those most in need across our city and year-on-year we continue to develop our programmes to ensure that we are tackling the most common social issues that exist in our city.”
There are 69 organisations who have been admitted to the Freedom Roll of Associations and Institutions since it began in 1962. These include The King’s Regiment, Liverpool and Everton Football Clubs, National Museums Liverpool, Merseyside Army Cadet Force, Cancer Research UK, and in 2017 Cream and Bradbury Fields were among the recipients.
Everton in the Community will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Tuesday 13 February with a star-studded Gala Dinner taking place at St George’s Hall.