First-team stars Leighton Baines and Tom Davies spent time with participants from two of Everton in the Community’s [EitC] mental health programmes last week, with the pair also discovering more about the charity’s plans for The People’s Place.
Participants from EitC’s ‘Stand Together’ and ‘Active Blues’ programmes visited USM Finch Farm for a slightly different delivery setting which was filmed by cameras from BBC Match of the Day as part of a special feature on the Club’s community work.
Everton duo Baines and Davies joined in a reminiscence session with elderly participants from the charity’s ‘Stand Together’ programme, which supports people aged 70+ at risk of social isolation.
The session involved the group studying Everton memorabilia and recognisable items from the Fifties and Sixties, including programmes from old Liverpool music venues and toiletries such as Brylcreem hair gel and Brut aftershave.
The two players also tried their hands at walking football with participants from EitC’s ‘Active Blues’ project.
Funded by Sport England and supported by Edge Hill University, the programme is traditionally delivered for men aged 35+ and provides weekly sport and physical activity sessions to improve mental health, social interaction, self-help, routes into volunteering and employment and assistance in reducing medication use.
Academy graduate Davies’ team won a competitive game 2-1. Following his first experience of walking football Baines said: “It is important we encourage everyone to be more physically active, it creates a positive feeling and contributes to your physical and mental health becoming better and stronger.”
Reflecting on the reminiscence session designed to evoke memories and encourage conversation, midfielder Davies said: “I’m growing up now and don't know a lot of what these people have experienced in their lives, so it is good for me to develop an understanding. As much as they are happy to see us players come and take part, I’m just as happy to be involved.”
Active Blues and Stand Together are just two of EitC’s existing mental health programmes supporting young people, adults, older people and those experiencing anxiety, depression, social isolation and loneliness and at risk of suicide.
The Club’s official charity is committed to supporting the mental health of local communities from childhood to older age, reflected through ‘The People’s Place, EitC’s current fundraising campaign to develop and build a purpose-built mental health facility close to Goodison Park.
The People's Place will become a delivery site for the charity’s existing programmes and enable signposting to other services. It will provide an overarching service to anyone, regardless of age, gender or location, to promote positive mental health alongside support related to suicide awareness and prevention.
To watch Everton in the Community’s special feature on BBC Match of the Day click here.