Ste Wynne has embarked on quite a journey since signing for Everton’s Academy at the age of 12.
A promising young player, he remained with the Toffees for the next seven years.
After a spell playing non-league football, he decided to take a new path and – thanks to the qualifications he earned during his time at the Blues’ Academy – was able to go to college and subsequently secure a place at university.
After flourishing in his sport and education course, he returned to Everton to work for the Club’s Free School and is now a support worker on EitC’s Breathing Space programme
The scheme supports young people aged 14 to 19 who are either currently in care or at risk of entering the care system, helping them to achieve in school, improve their health and wellbeing and develop their self-esteem.
“As a youngster, I was all ‘football, Everton, football, Everton’ – that’s all I could think about!” says Ste.
“Thankfully, with the help of Club, I had that wraparound support when I was here and, as well as the training, I got the education side of things right. I was supported a lot by Mike Dickinson, who was the Head of Education and Welfare at the Academy.
“I ended up getting the qualifications, so it helped me later on in life.
“My story is quite unique. I’ve had a working-class background and the professional, nurturing side of the Club, which has helped me develop.
“I use aspects of that - coming through the Club, the professionalism, the things they instilled in me - to try to help the young people I work with now.”
Wynne beams with pride when speaking about the progress and achievements of the young people he has helped develop in his time working at the Free School.
While he emphasises “there have been so many success stories”, he believes the journey made by one particular student highlights EITC’s ability to change lives.
“This person had struggled in mainstream education but through the support she got with us, her confidence and self-esteem improved,” Wynne explains.
“She’s now working at a gym with the professional boxer Derry Mathews and she’s also working with us part-time at the Everton youth zone provision we run.
“I built a rapport with her at the Free School and I still speak to her mum and dad, and now go to circuit training sessions she runs at the weekend!”
Wynne once dreamed of lining up for the Blues and making his mark on the hallowed turf of Goodison Park. While this was not to be, he appears in his element in his current role.
He emphasises how the variety of his role at EitC and the opportunity to make a positive, lasting impact on the lives of disadvantaged young people makes his job “extremely rewarding”.
“I was an Evertonian, my whole family were all Evertonians, so my hopes and aspirations were to be at Everton, but it’s now in a completely different capacity,” he says.
“In the role I’m in now, I can be doing home visits, supporting young people in schools, and supporting people here if they need any help with employability and CVs.
“The people who we work with, you can see that it matters to them. Some of the young people I work with, three or four years down the line they still come and see you and tell you it’s fantastic the stuff that we’ve done for them and the hope we’ve given them. Some of the things we do here are fantastic.
“It’s not just a job to me – it means more.”
To find out more about the life-changing, life-saving work of Everton in the Community, click here