Everton In The Community Invited To Speak At Houses Of Parliament

Everton in the Community has outlined its work in supporting refugees in Northern Uganda at an event hosted at the Houses of Parliament.

The Club's official charity has been delivering sport therapy sessions to vulnerable refugees and members of the hosting community in the West Nile region, Northern Uganda since 2018 as part of the West-Nile UK Health Partnership Consortium.

To showcase the impact of the work, Everton in the Community's health and wellbeing manager Johnnie Garside was invited to London by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health as part of the 57th Uganda Independence Day health celebrations to present on the consortium’s successes in the country to date.

The invitation-only event was chaired by Lord Nigel Crisp, the former Chief Executive of the English NHS and Permanent Secretary of the UK Department of Health, with Lord Popat, UK Trade Envoy to Uganda, H.E Julius Peter Moto, Uganda High Commissioner to the UK, and Rt Honourable Andrew Stephenson MP, Minister of State DFID (Africa), also in attendance.

“It was an honour to present the work Everton in the Community and consortium partners The Uganda Red Cross have done in supporting the refugee and host community groups in the West Nile region," said Garside. "This invitation demonstrates the level of interest there has been in our football therapy approach and it is an area we are looking to develop further in the years to come.”

During his visits to East Africa, Johnnie has delivered week-long football therapy and coach education projects, as well as delivering mental health awareness workshops using football therapy.

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He has also worked alongside the Ugandan Red Cross Society and local West Nile football team Onduparaka FC to deliver a series of coaching clinics for locally trained coaches.

Among those coaches are refugees who bring the refugee communities from different West Nile refugee settlements to play football as part of psychosocial therapy for those affected by the impact of war and trauma.

Robert Kwesiga, Secretary General for the Uganda Red Cross Society, said: “Our partnership with Everton in the Community and other partners under the consortium has been a great opportunity for us to meet the psychosocial needs of the refugees.

"Football has been used as therapy to offer psychosocial support to people, especially the young people, who would have been idle and abusing drugs due to stress, depression and other mental health-related cases resulting from the political crisis that they went through.

“We are happy to continue working with Everton as we meet the needs of the refugees and hosting communities through the consortium. We also thank Johnnie for his support and commitment in fulfilling the partnership terms.”

Director of Global Engagement, Health Education England, Ged Byrne added: "“The West Nile consortium as part of the Uganda UK Health Alliance is unique in my experience. Driven by EITC, and using football coaching as a stimulus to improved mental health in some of the most desperate living conditions on the planet is genuinely inspiring and transformative. HEE is proud to be associated with the programme”  

To find out more about Everton in the Community and its programmes, click here.

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