Everton and Everton in the Community have once again been recognised by leading industry experts, winning three prizes at the Sports Business Awards - including a gold award for the best fan engagement programme during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As well as landing the top prize for its interaction with supporters through the Blue Family outreach and engagement campaign, Everton, along with technical partner hummel, picked up silver in the ‘Sports Diversity Award’ category for the More Than Eleven kit campaign that saw the Club become the first in Premier League history to launch a strip using only players from its disability teams.
Meanwhile, closer to home at the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards, Everton CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale was honoured with a Local Hero Award in recognition of her leadership of the football club and wider impact of Everton’s Blue Family initiative which supported more than 31,500 vulnerable and at-risk individuals and families across Liverpool last year. Assistance included providing essential food parcels, items and clothing; financial assistance for prescriptions and medical support; vouchers to pay for utility bills and mobile phone credit; as well as support for mental and physical health.
Everton in the Community and its more than 40 programmes tackling social issues from mental health and homelessness to poverty and employability also took silver having been shortlisted for 'Best Sports Community Scheme'.
First launched in 2017, the Sports Business Awards celebrate the vital influence of business within sport and recognise the organisations, teams and individuals who have excelled within the industry.
Everton's success at the ceremony follows its recognition at September's Football Business Awards, when the Club landed five prizes, including gold awards for 'Best COVID response' and 'Best Club Marketing Activation' for More Than Eleven.
Launched in March 2020, days before the first national lockdown was confirmed, Everton's Blue Family initiative gave people across Merseyside the opportunity to refer isolated members of the community to receive support and assistance. The campaign ultimately saw the Blues spring to the aid of 31,500 vulnerable and at-risk individuals and families.
More than 29,000 check-in and welfare phone calls were made by staff, players and Club Ambassadors, while 17,750 emergency food parcels and food vouchers were delivered. The scheme also provided more than 295,000 meals to schoolchildren, participants and people in need across Liverpool, and supported more than 3,800 families with utilities, mobile phone credit and essential household items.
Everton’s Digital and Social Media, Fan Engagement, and Everton in the Community teams played a central role in keeping fans around the world connected as part of Blue Family, delivering vital health, wellbeing and educational resources. From bedtime stories for young Blues read by First-Team and Everton Women players, to workouts delivered by Club coaches, classic match ‘watchalongs’ and even an international virtual music festival, Lockdown Sessions 2020, a programme of tailored content reached millions of people when they needed it most.
Everton and hummel’s More Than Eleven campaign not only saw players from Everton in the Community’s disability programme star as the lead models for the 2020/21 third kit reveal, but hummel also committed to fund a legacy coaching programme for disabled footballers that launched earlier this year. The programme has seen 20 Everton in the Community players take their first steps into coaching, with the aim of securing FA-recognised badges and potential future employment opportunities.
More widely, Everton in the Community’s groundbreaking work continues to support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people across Merseyside and the Liverpool City Region. In 2021, the charity has partnered with the Steve Morgan Foundation to deliver a £1.5m early intervention programme in South Liverpool and also launched a ground-breaking technology and education programme, E-STEAM, which aims to transform the way children learn, create, and invent through coding and technology.
Other highlights included the charity celebrating the 20th anniversary of its disability programme, an initiative that engages with in excess of 500 participants every week.