A former learner on Everton in the Community’s New Futures programme has hailed the opportunity to be part of the Club’s official charity as one of the most rewarding things she’s done after picking up the 383 Dixie Dean Volunteer Award.
Heather Owens, who is also a matchday steward at Goodison Park, received the prize after accumulating 383 hours of volunteer service at EitC, corresponding to the number of goals the great Dixie Dean scored for the Blues.
Heather acquired the first of her 383 hours in August 2018 after completing a 12-week social development and employability pathway at Everton in the Community.
During the course, she became a reliable and committed learner, dedicating time to improving her social skills and employability through workshops and practical work experience, and it was from the programme that Heather landed her role as a matchday steward.
“The 12-week pathway gave me a great insight into Everton in the Community and the opportunities available to get involved in the charity” said Heather. “I was able to meet many of the coaches and staff within EITC and learn more about the array of programmes they offer.
"If you want to be part of Everton in the Community, this programme is one of the many great ways to get started.
“Everybody you meet at Goodison has a warm smile; the fans are so passionate about their Club and their community, and interacting with them on a matchday - especially those you’ve seen at an EitC event - is a wonderful feeling.
“Knowing that I could be learning from the charity’s coaches each day - in a practical setting - was an opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up.”
Heather predominantly volunteers on Everton in the Community’s Premier League Primary Stars programme where she assists coaches who use the appeal of the Premier League to inspire children to learn, be active and develop life skills in primary schools.
Through the inspiring work of the programme, Heather is able to engage with pupils through challenging PSHE topics such as resilience, diversity, self-esteem and fair play.
She added: “My main role is to support on the Primary Stars programme, assisting the coaches with different activities in our PSHE and PE lessons.
"Being involved with EitC has improved my confidence massively. No two people are the same and you need to learn how to interact with different people.
"Whilst representing EitC, you must be confident enough to interact with new people, whether that be for a few minutes or a couple of hours. The most important thing is positively impacting on somebody else’s experience, which is what I enjoy doing so much.”
Anybody aged between 16 and 24 who is not in education, employment or training can follow in Heather’s footsteps, with registration now available to sign up for EitC’s next 12-week pathway programme in Customer Service and Hospitality.
Those who sign up for the programme can gain a detailed insight in the customer service and hospitality industry, while developing key employability skills required to succeed in the industry.
Volunteering is just one of many opportunities that can be accessed from the pathway, with various routes into education, employment and training available.
The course will be delivered from The Hub on Spellow Lane, with lunch and travel reimbursed.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity that is open to anyone” said Heather. “The list of things to be involved in is endless, so there will be something that suits everybody’s interests and availability.
"You will gain memories that last a lifetime and it will be one of the most rewarding things you will do. Most importantly, everybody welcomes you with open arms into the EITC family.”
To register your interest in the 12-week pathway programme, to refer or for more information, contact Everton in the Community’s Employability Coordinator Yolande Walsh via email at Yolande.Walsh@evertonfc.com or call 07875097453.
To find out more about volunteering at EitC, click here.