The Club received plaudits for the gesture but it was not a PR stunt in a reaction to a spiralling news story but part of an ongoing effort to support those in need.
For the last couple of years, Everton in the Community have supported the plight of refugees through a range of programmes and initiatives. Working with local action groups, Asylum Link and Refugee Action, while also forging close links with British Red Cross, Everton’s official charity has offered assistance to these families in and around the wider community in which they are based.
Stephen Hale, Chief Executive of Refugee Action, said: “For the past 18 months, Everton has supported us to provide information sessions and support to newly arrived asylum seekers in Liverpool.
“They have provided us with safe space which is accessible to often vulnerable people seeking safety who live in the local community, enabling them to negotiate the long and complicated road they face ahead of them.”
Some of the specific programmes with which EitC have raised awareness and addressed real issues concerning refugees include Refugee Action’s Big Night In, as well as the donation of proceeds from EitC’s People’s Picnic food-bank appeals.
The areas surrounding the Club’s home, Goodison Park in L4, has seen refugees and asylum seekers relocated there with some struggling with various issues as well as adapting to their new environment and the different language.
Big Night In, an initiative which encourages people to cook at home to support refugees was held earlier this year, with treats on the menu including Syrian fattoush (mixed salad), spicy mofatah (lamb stew) from Iran, nutty ndole from Cameroon and a smoky pumpkin curry from Sri Lanka.
The project’s aim is to create a safe haven offering a range of inclusive activities tailored to individual’s needs, talents and interests.
Everton Free School and Sixth Form College have run information and awareness days for all their students on refugee related issues, along with a number of workshops which were accessible to every student in the school covering such areas as international family tracing, mobility aids service, first aid and refugee services. In particular the work of the Red Cross was highlighted, raising further awareness among the students.
Plans are in place for further work in the areas of health and well-being and community cohesion initiatives, while welcome football games are also being planned.
EitC is encouraging participants to its EuroFIT programme, taking place at Goodison Park, in addition to further awareness building, charitable drives and direct intervention to help refugees in the City.
For more information about how people can support refugees, please visit www.refugee-action.org.uk/help