Everton Women’s senior team star Lucy Hope headed to Everton in the Community’s L4 campus to discover how the charity is engaging with female veterans and their families ahead of Remembrance Weekend.
The Scotland International met ex-servicewomen from the newly formed Stand By Her programme which supports female veterans and family members with the opportunity to connect with likeminded people whilst combatting social isolation.
As part of a Remembrance football tournament hosted at The People’s Hub, Hope also met ex-service personnel from Everton’s Veterans’ Hub as well as participants from the ‘Welcome Through Football’ project which is designed to support refugees and asylum seekers who have been relocated to Liverpool.
Taking place in line with Remembrance Week, the event aimed to recognise the hard work and achievements of participants on the charity’s veterans’ programmes whilst honouring the fallen, at which the Last Post was played followed by a minute’s silence prior to the final kicking off.
The Blues midfielder was on hand to present the winner’s trophy and medals before the evening culminated in her heading inside the charity’s mental health and wellbeing hub, The People’s Place to take part in a ‘meet and greet’ with participants from the female veterans’ programme.
Stand By Her recently launched a new 12-week initiative known as ‘WELLFIT’ which consists of a weekly football training session followed by a health and wellbeing session, where participants can get involved in a roundtable discussion around topics related to mental wellbeing. Since the event aimed to shine a light on Stand By Her participants in particular, Hope had a candid conversation with the likeminded women about the challenges of working in a male-dominated environment and shed light on her own experiences of how she tackles gender inequality on and off the pitch.
Reflecting on the night, Hope said: “I’m so glad I had the opportunity to come down here tonight, it’s been hugely inspiring meeting the veterans. They’re all from different backgrounds and walks of life but football has brought them together to celebrate such a great cause.
“The fact that the Stand By Her programme has only been running since May and they’ve been able to field a team for the tournament and go toe-to-toe with the men’s team is incredible, it was really humbling to watch them. Football in general is very much a male-dominated environment and it’s the same for the military, so for the charity to create a programme solely dedicated to female veterans is life-changing and so empowering for that community.”
Everton in the Community Veterans Coordinator, Nikki McGee, added: “Remembrance is a special occasion in the calendar for our veterans’ programmes every year. We take a step back and come together to honour those servicemen and women that are with us and those who have sadly passed away.
“Lucy visiting us and spending time with the participants today, hearing about their lived experiences has meant so much to them all – especially for the Evertonians in the group. It was another uplifting event in a week full of Remembrance activities which recognised their hard work and achievements, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Everton in the Community has been directly supporting ex-service personnel and their families across Merseyside since 2010, and its military support provision has grown to encompass targeted work supporting a wide range of veteran-specific issues, with the charity currently running three programmes.
Launched in May 2023, Stand By Her has been designed specifically to support female veterans, giving them the opportunity to reconnect socially, improve their physical health and get access to mental, physical and social health services. The need for this programme stemmed from a total lack of engagement on the veterans’ programme from women, with no or very little offer in the Liverpool City Region just for female veterans.
Everton Veterans’ Hub engages ex-service personnel who are at risk of isolation with sport, training and social activities as well as offering invaluable referral links and signposting to ex-forces organisations.
The Aged Veterans’ programme is dedicated to ex-military personnel aged 60 and over and focuses on supporting those who are socially isolated with a wide range of social enrichment, education and physical activity opportunities.
To mark Remembrance this year, Everton in the Community’s veterans’ programmes have also created a memorial garden at The People’s Place as well as took part in Everton Football Club’s annual Service of Remembrance. In addition, Army veteran and author Deb Mills-Burn, who is part of the Stand By Her programme, is set to feature as a guest speaker at the Liverpool Service of Remembrance on Sunday and will read a poignant poem she has written, titled ‘My Liverpool Home’.
To find out more about the charity’s veterans’ provision, click here.