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Everton Football Club's official charity has been granted nearly £1 million to fund an innovative new social inclusion programme targeting young offenders.
Everton in the Community has been awarded £930,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to deliver a new scheme called 'Safe Hands', which will offer up to 150 young offenders the chance to make significant and lasting life changes.
This exciting and dynamic project will support the personal development of children and young adults, both male and female, aged between 15 and 21 based in young offenders' institutions and secure units in Greater Merseyside.
Working with young offenders' institutions and arts agencies across Merseyside, specialist Everton in the Community staff will use the power of football to help integrate the young people back into their local communities.
Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Chief Executive of Everton in the Community, said: "As Everton Football Club's official charity we care passionately about reaching out to support those members of our community who, for whatever reason, face difficulties integrating into society.
"Our successful Big Lottery Fund bid will enable us to enhance and enrich the work we do as part of our social inclusion programme. We have in the past had great success using the power of sport and, more specifically, our iconic brand to engage vulnerable and hard-to-reach members of our society. We have made a tremendous impact with our youth programmes and have many success stories from young people who have turned their lives around as a result of the help, support and guidance offered by members of our community team.
"This new initiative will provide the opportunity for Everton in the Community to work in partnership with experts from arts organisations and young offenders' institutions across Merseyside to focus on the personal needs and aspirations of young people leaving secure care. This project has been designed to prevent the young people from reoffending, offering a diversion from negative social influences and equipping them with better coping strategies and support structures to deal with life events.
"We are absolutely thrilled to have secured such a considerable award and we look forward to working with our partners to deliver a dynamic and creative programme, all thanks to the Big Lottery Fund's 'Youth in Focus' programme."
Safe hands will work with young offenders prior to release to identify their hopes and fears and an individual support package will be implemented to prepare them for release.
Once released, the participants will undertake an extensive programme of activities tailored towards their individual needs to help them get 'back on their feet' and build positive relationships with their communities.
At the end of the programme cycle, it is hoped each participant will be supported into either employment, further education or the Safe Hands Peer Mentoring Programme.
Everton midfielder Leon Osman, who is the Club's charity ambassador for Social Inclusion, said: "The Safe Hands programme will make a real difference to the lives of many vulnerable young people across Merseyside and help them to turn their lives around. It's great to see Everton reaching out to even more young people using the power of football."
The award to Everton in the Community comes from the Big Lottery Fund's Youth in Focus funding programme, which is today investing £30million in projects that address the debilitating gaps in support faced by some of England's most vulnerable young people - young carers and young people leaving the care system and youth offending institutions.
Andy Myers, Big Lottery Fund's Regional Development Manager attended Everton's training ground, Finch Farm, to present Leon and Denise with the cheque.
Speaking at the presentation, Andy Myers said: "We are proud to be supporting this brilliant project, which is going to help so many young people across Greater Merseyside. It is a crucial time in these young people's lives, as they prepare to leave a youth offending institution and make the often difficult step to changing their life course and becoming responsible and independent adults.
"Without effective support, many of these young people are doomed to fail before they've even begun. This funding will help Everton in the Community to address this situation and give these young people the support they need to succeed."
For more information about Safe Hands and Everton in the Community visit evertonfc.com/community
Everton Football Club has launched a new mobile application for Blackberry users.
The release means the Club now offers a range of mobile products which is unparalleled among Premier League clubs - only AC Milan and Real Madrid have released bespoke applications for Blackberry.
The official Everton Blackberry App offers fans a great way to receive news, images and other engaging content about the Blues straight to their Blackberry.
Supporters have access to official statistical information including fixtures, results, tables and player appearances, plus squad details, ticket information, Club history and teamsheets.
The Blackberry application, which is available from the App Store, joins the hugely successful iPhone and Android apps.
Everton's Head of Media and Communications, Mark Rowan, said: "This release is a further demonstration of our recognition of the increasing dependence people have on applications. "A significant number of our supporters indicated to us that they were keen to see an official application on the Blackberry platform and we are delighted to add to our portfolio with this product.
"The iPhone and Android applications have proved popular and we are confident that the same will be true of this app." The Official Everton Blackberry App is available from the Blackberry App Store now, priced £2.39.
For more information visit evertonfc.com/blackberry.
Please note, the accuracy of information on this site cannot be guaranteed - please always check the Official Everton Website at www.evertonfc.com.