Everton’s official charity welcomed a very special guest to Goodison Park at the start of July in the form of Mark Kent, British Ambassador to Thailand and Everton in the Community patron.
Accompanying Mr Kent were his colleagues from UK Trade & Investment North West, Philomena Chen and Paul Stowers, and the trio were given an insight into the work of EITC and Everton Free School by charity chief Dr Denise Barrett-Baxendale.
The visit got underway at the newly-erected Everton Free School and Sixth Form College site on Spellow Lane, with the Ambassador being given a tour by Principal Phil Duffy and also dropping in on classes to speak with students about their studies at the facility.
The next port of call was to meet participants from Pass on the Memories. Delivered in partnership with Mersey Care NHS Trust, the ground-breaking programme supports those living with dementia and their carers.
Mr Kent heard first-hand from those involved with the scheme about the successful impact it has had on their lives and those of their loved ones and also learned from Michael Salla, Health and Wellbeing Manager, and Brianna Harvey, Social Inclusion Coach, about the national recognition and acclaim the programme has received.
The final stop of the visit was to the charity’s Safe Hands programme, where the Ambassador and his colleagues met Support Officers Alex Jones and Paul Wright and heard from young men about how the support of Everton in the Community has helped them to turn their lives around since being released from secure care.
Launched in 2012 with funding from the Big Lottery Fund, Safe Hands is a five-year project that targets young offenders in the Merseyside area, aiming to help them integrate back into society after leaving secure care by offering them opportunities that they may never have considered as options before.
Speaking after his time at Goodison Park, Mr Kent said: “Having the opportunity to hear first-hand about the impact this wonderful charity is having on the lives of so many people really is overwhelming and makes me very proud to be a patron of Everton in the Community. The charity really does change lives and is such an asset to the Merseyside community, and really is an example of best practice, not just to England but to the world.”
Dr Barrett-Baxendale added: “We are always very proud to have the opportunity to showcase the work we are doing and were delighted to welcome one of our esteemed patrons, Mr Kent, to Goodison Park.”