The city’s two football clubs, Everton and Liverpool FC, are at the centre of a new joint project which has been awarded £700,000 to prevent serious violence, tackle gang culture and protect young people from exploitation.
The club’s charitable arms, Everton in the Community and the LFC Foundation, will work in partnership with the Princes Trust and the Shrewsbury House Youth Club on the project after receiving funding from the Home Office’s Early Intervention Youth Fund (EIYF) following a bid put forward and endorsed by the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Jane Kennedy.
The joint Merseyside Youth Alliance project will deliver early intervention programmes targeting young people aged 8-19 across Merseyside, particularly focusing on areas in South Sefton, North and Central Liverpool, Huyton and Toxteth where violence is at a high.
Led by Everton in the Community and overseen by the Police Commissioner, the project aims to identify and gain the trust of young people and engage them in voluntary activities at schools, youth clubs and centres and through outreach work which will help them to understand and move away from potentially dangerous and criminal situations. It will also focus on supporting the young people to identify their own strengths and develop their skills, helping them to build a more positive future.
With the funding, the Merseyside Youth Alliance project will recruit specialist school workers and youth workers who will develop key relationships, support schools in target areas and be able to mentor students confidentially. ‘Speak Up’ campaigns will be developed within schools to encourage young people to share any concerns they have in relation to gang culture or violent crime. Teachers and staff will also receive training to identify those at high-risk of becoming involved in gang activity.
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “Reaching young people before they are targeted by more sophisticated individuals who draw them into a dangerous, criminal lifestyle is essential if we are to break the cycle of gang-related violence in our communities.
“I was really pleased to be able to work with these four really effective organisations to put forward this bid and I’m delighted that the Home Office has clearly recognised the importance of this project by allocating the full amount requested of £700,000.
“With this money, we can work in the most troubled communities to target the young people most at risk of harm, building their confidence, equipping them with new skills and encouraging them to strive for a brighter future.
“With two of the country’s biggest football clubs on board, the experience of the Prince’s Trust and the experience, community knowledge and understanding provided by the Shrewsbury House Youth Club, this project can have a huge impact transforming the lives of hundreds of potentially vulnerable young people, but also have far-reaching benefits for their families, schools and the wider community. If we can reduce the number of young people entering gangs and becoming involved in serious violence, it will improve lives across our region.”
Merseyside Police Chief Constable and National Policing Lead for Serious & Organised Crime Andy Cooke said: “This project underlines and fully supports our absolute commitment to aligning the efforts of all agencies and partners, working together to tackle serious and organised crime, within the Government’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy, which was launched earlier this month.
“A key part of this strategy is stopping the problem at its source, by identifying and supporting those at risk of engaging in criminality. It is vital to develop and use preventative methods and education so we can divert more young people from a life of serious organised crime and reduce reoffending.”
Richard Kenyon, Everton in the Community CEO, said: “We have been working alongside Merseyside Police for over 10 years, delivering early intervention and crime reduction programmes across our city with the main aim of combatting youth crime. We are really pleased to be taking the lead on this programme and look forward to working alongside the LFC Foundation, The Prince’s Trust and the Shrewsbury House Youth Club as we all combine our experience and expertise to help protect young people from exploitation.”
Jenny Stewart, Interim Head of the LFC Foundation, said: “This joint project is a great example of Merseyside organisations coming together for a greater good of the city. This additional funding will enable us to expand our many existing programmes with Merseyside Police that support thousands of young people across the region to tackle youth and gang crime.”
John Hutchison, chair at Shrewsbury House, said: “The Shewsy club has been at the heart of this challenge since 1903 and we are delighted be part of this new partnership which will boost our collective efforts over the next few years”.
Find out about the other successful bids here.