Christmas is always one of the busiest times of the year for Everton in the Community, and although circumstances may have changed, this year has been no different.
Whilst Christmas is an opportunity to spread festive cheer to those less fortunate, it’s also a vital time for the charity to continue to deliver the support it provides throughout the year.
The charity’s Blue Family campaign has continued to operate throughout the pandemic, supporting the most vulnerable, socially isolated and at-risk across Liverpool during these unprecedented times, alongside delivering its 40+ programmes – both virtual and face-to-face – whilst adhering to government guidelines and ensuring every participant and member of staff remains safe.
And while it’s credit to Everton in the Community’s staff, volunteers and partners who’ve gone above and beyond during an unprecedented year, we can’t forget our supporters and the true Blues who have helped played their part in spreading Christmas cheer.
Some of that Christmas cheer was directed towards our Everton Veterans Hub programme who were overwhelmed when the team at the Unholy Trinity Podcast donated 25 hampers to our isolated military veterans.
💙 The guys @UHTPodcast recently got in touch asking how they could support our veterans programme this Christmas.— Everton in the Community (@EITC) December 17, 2020
They used their platform to gain support from other Blues who were able to put together 25 Christmas hampers for our veterans.
That's just what Evertonians do..💙 pic.twitter.com/T8aVbl6BDu
The team have previous experience in supporting our veterans and donated hampers for our veterans Christmas meal last year, and 12 months on, the podcast team were blown away when their social media post asking for support encouraged Evertonians across the world to help out.
Local architects Condy Lofthouse are also delivering hampers to participants on our Stand Together programme and agent marketing have been donating books to participants on several of the charity's programmes. Elsewhere, Everton in the Community’s National Citizen Service autumn participants, made up of young people aged 15-16, made the most of the festive season and their social action project by reaching out to local care homes with letters, Christmas cards and presents; supporting local residents, many of whom are unable to see their loved ones this Christmas.
More than 100 families from Everton in the Community’s Youth engagement programmes received Christmas food boxes from Morrisons, accompanied with donations of toys by Radio City’s ‘Cash For Kids’ charity, all of which were wrapped by staff and NCS participants.
Meanwhile, the charity’s Premier League Kicks team have been busy delivering a three-day holiday camp in conjunction with Barclays. Taking place in the build-up to Christmas, the camps provide local young people with access to football, arts and crafts and social action activities alongside ‘Barclays workshops’. The camps have allowed the PL Kicks team to remain engaged with participants, many of whom coming from hard to reach, deprived areas of Merseyside.
For most of this year, Everton in the Community has been forced to move their face-to-face sessions to a virtual format, with a series of ‘Monday Motivation’ and ‘Friday Feeling’ sessions delivered by the health and wellbeing team. Earlier this week, the charity welcomed comedian, ‘Sir Stevo Timothy’ where the Irish comic talked comedy, and his own journey with mental health to viewers who were able to log in for free using the webex app.
Two of our partner high schools, Savio Salesian College and Calderstones High School received a Christmas surprise when the charity’s staff and Optimum Group Services delivered Christmas hampers to vulnerable families in the school, whilst primary schools were treated to a free virtual mass Christmas event with a ‘Jingle Bell Rock-Out.
🎄 Two of our partner schools, @Savio_Salesian and @CaldiesSchool received a Christmas surprise this week thanks to @optimumgroupser.— Everton in the Community (@EITC) December 17, 2020
💙Delighted to partner with the firm to deliver Christmas hampers to vulnerable families in the school. pic.twitter.com/gRjV6PtXrY
Organised by the charity’s Premier League Primary Stars team, the event was brought virtually to classrooms across the region, where 1,681 pupils participated in the jam-packed day of fun activities, from dance lessons, Christmas craft making, fitness games and interactive quizzes!
Fundraising festivities have continued with supporters able to purchase their own personalised message from ‘Blue Santa’ at his virtual Santa Grotto - with all funds generated towards the charity, whilst collaborations with local florist, the Dutch Flower Shop and ‘Make a Difference’ have ensured Blues can purchase their own DIY Wreaths and Everton Christmas Ecards whilst making a worthy contribution to the charity. Over £3,000 has been raised from Christmas initiatives, with thanks to the Dutch Flower Shop for donating to our cause and to Sainsbury’s and Home & Bargains on Rice Lane for donating the selection boxes included.
And Everton in the Community’s annual Forever Blue Reflection event provides a poignant experience for those who’ve lost loved one where families are welcomed to USM Finch Farm to plant trees in memory of loved ones. This couldn’t go ahead in 2020, so instead, the charity compiled an online selection of performances from Liverpool Parish Church, Our Lady & St Nicholas, prayers from Reverend Bill Addy, personal messages from the likes of Duncan Ferguson and carols sang by children from Saints Peter and Paul School in Kirkby.