Everton first team stars Jonjoe Kenny and Tom Davies visited Everton in the Community’s Youth Zone last week to find out more about the work that the Club’s official charity does to support and protect young people across Merseyside.
The Blues duo were accompanied by Merseyside Police Chief Constable and Everton in the Community Ambassador Andy Cooke on their visit to the twice-weekly Youth Zone at The People’s Hub. Upon arrival they were greeted by the charity’s CEO Richard Kenyon and Director of Youth Engagement Sue Gregory and were given a short insight into how EitC work with Merseyside Police to empower young people and effect positive social change within some of the most challenging and hard-to-reach groups, focusing on areas of high anti-social behaviour and crime.
The Liverpool-born duo then wasted no time in getting involved in the session and joining the children in their activities. Midfielder Davies showed off his creative talents when he joined a group of young children for some arts and crafts whilst Kenny helped some youngsters master the art of cooking a stir-fry before it was time for some football on the Cruyff Court. The two Academy graduates, and Chief Constable Cooke, helped the children with some passing drills before taking part in a penalty shootout. There was time for a quick game of FIFA with a handful of participants before the Youth Zone ended.
Everton right-back Jonjoe Kenny, who grew up in the heart of L4, said: “It’s been great to come here with Tom to meet the kids and put a smile on their faces. The Youth Zone is a great facility and is really having a positive impact on the local community; it’s giving kids something to do instead of staying on the streets and getting into trouble – it is really giving them another life.
“Everton in the Community is doing great things in the local area and programmes like this are helping to get crime out. Crime doesn’t just happen here, it happens everywhere but what they have done for the community and getting crime out has really helped. They are getting the kids, instead of hanging around on streets, they are bringing them here and it is making a difference.”Everton in the Community CEO Richard Kenyon added: “Sessions like the Youth Zone are really important because they give young people in our community the opportunity to come to a relaxed, fun environment but also crucially an environment that’s safe. The children who come to the Youth Zone come regularly and we build relationships with them which gives us the opportunity to get to know them and to find out if there are any issues that we can support with.“This Youth Zones has been proved to help reduce crime in the area and help reduce the number of young people falling into crime. Our plan is to be able to replicate that in other areas outside of L4 and in the wider city region so we’re excited to be able to do that and put smiles on more young people’s faces across the region but also have a real serious, beneficial impact on reducing crime in those areas too.”Funded by the Premier League and Merseyside Police’s ‘Proceeds of Crime Act’, the Youth Zone runs twice a week and provides a safe environment for young people aged 5-19-years-old to have fun, raise their aspirations and develop their confidence.The Youth Zone engages with over 100 local children from Liverpool 4 each week and combines football and sports sessions with workshops on topics such as healthy lifestyles, road safety and employability, as well as educating youngsters on the dangers of gang violence and drugs and alcohol.
Everton in the Community has had a long-standing relationship with Merseyside Police for over 10 years which has seen the Police fund and support its programmes to engage young people in more positive activities to benefit them and their local community. The Youth Zone is funded by Merseyside Police’s ‘Proceeds of Crime Act’ which sees cash taken out of the hands of criminals channelled towards a crime and criminal exploitation prevention programme in the areas surrounding Goodison Park.
Speaking about the partnership between the Club’s official charity and Merseyside Police, Chief Constable Andy Cooke said: “Throughout the last 30 years Everton in the Community have been passionate in their desire to give young people positive opportunities to benefit them and their local community. And for more than 10 years Merseyside Police has been fortunate to be part of this work.
“I was delighted when we were able to assist in funding the Youth Zone through cash we have received via the Proceeds of Crime Act. It is within our gift to use that money on programmes such as this, which give young people in some of our poorest and most deprived areas some aspiration and the opportunity to do some good in their communities.
“When young people are given the chance to take part in such positive programmes they are less inclined to find themselves hanging around on the streets with no sense of purpose and vulnerable to criminal exploitation. It helps better prepare them to make the right decisions in life and steer them away from becoming involved in criminality, or anti-social behaviour.
“For me, this is the best possible use of the ill-gotten criminal gains that we seize and it gives us the opportunity to put something back into the communities where criminality and anti-social behaviour has had such a profound and debilitating impact.”
By keeping young people off the streets in the evening, the Youth Zone aims to steer them onto the right path, away from committing anti-social behaviour and ultimately reduce crime.
Everton in the Community’s youth focused early intervention programmes consistently reduce crime and anti-social behaviour by 78-82% in the areas in which they are delivered during the time of the session.
The charity was recently awarded funding by the Home Office’s Early Intervention Youth Fund to deliver early intervention programmes targeting young people aged 8-19 across Merseyside, focusing on areas where violence is at a high.
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