British professional boxer and stalwart Blues fan Tony ‘The Bomber’ Bellew spent Wednesday afternoon getting his hands dirty with a group of young participants from Everton in the Community’s ‘Safe Hands’ programme.
Bellew joined the group of young adults as they volunteered to improve a garden project at Bupa Mersey Park Residential Home in Toxeth to help mark the countdown to the finale of Everton in the Community’s 25th anniversary campaign.
The Club’s official charity will celebrate the end of its year-long silver jubilee programme at its dedicated birthday game against Aston Villa on 1 February, thanking Evertonians for their support over the past 12 months.
To celebrate Everton in the Community’s 25th anniversary the charity launched its most ambitious fundraising campaign to date, with the aim of raising £1million and help even more vulnerable and underprivileged people on Merseyside.
In the build-up to the Villa fixture, famous supporters and members of the first team squad are visiting some of the projects delivered by Everton in the Community, to highlight where the money raised is being used and the difference the charity makes on a daily basis.
On his own participation, Bellew said: “Everton do so much for local people and I love getting involved with anything these guys do.
“I can see the difference Everton make, which is huge to these young people, and the opportunities they offer them. They offer these guys the chance to make something of themselves, which a lot of other organisations don’t seem to do.
“I am over the moon to be able to offer my support and be a part of Everton in the Community’s 25th anniversary campaign.”
Launched in 2012, Safe Hands is a five-year project that targets young offenders aged between 15 and 21 across the North West of England and aims to help them integrate back into society by creating opportunities that they may never have considered as options before.
The project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund ‘Youth in Focus’ programme, works with young offenders prior to release with an specific support package being implemented to prepare each participant for the outside world.
Once released, the participants undertake an extensive programme of activities tailored towards their individual needs to help them not just to re-integrate, but to 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.
The scheme won the Community Initiative of the Year award at the North West Football Awards in 2013 and was also shortlisted for the Community Award at the Sport Industry Awards 2013.
For the past year, Everton in the Community has been asking the capacity of Goodison Park, 40,000 supporters, to each raise just £25 to help achieve its £1million target. The response from Evertonians, individuals and organisations from across the world has been phenomenal and during half time at the Aston Villa fixture, the charity will announce the final fundraising total.
Ahead of the game, supporters will be treated to a host of activities to celebrate Everton in the Community’s 26th birthday.
Live entertainment, interviews with former players, music from Jennifer Jewell and Batala, face painting and a live auction will all take place in the Fan Zone and the official matchday programme will feature a commemorative pull-out celebrating highlights from the 25th anniversary campaign, how the money raised will make a difference and how fans can still get involved with the charity.
To be a part of Everton in the Community’s birthday celebrations make sure you purchase your ticket for Everton’s Premier League fixture against Aston Villa on 1 February, at 3pm. Tickets start from £32 for adults and only £16 for Under-16s, to buy click here