Thursday 11 October 2012
Everton and Liverpool stars helped to celebrate five years of Kickz, an award-winning social inclusion programme for young people on Merseyside.
Liverpool's Stewart Downing and Everton's Tim Howard attended a celebration event at Stockbridge Village Neighbourhood Centre on Tuesday to mark the fantastic work undertaken by both clubs to deliver the popular scheme, which works towards tackling the many difficult issues facing young people across the city.
"As players, it is important to support community events such as this," Howard told the club's official website. "It is important that these children are inspired to stay off the streets and look to really positive things.
"With both clubs working closely together this means we can have a bigger impact on young people in Liverpool"
Liverpool Foundation's Forbes Duff
"Community is what is important. You can go to Anfield or Goodison and the lights go out, the wins and losses come and go but the future of the community is more important."
Kickz began in 2006 as a partnership between the Premier League and the Metropolitan Police with four pilot projects. Since then the scheme has gone country-wide, with 44 Premier League and Football League clubs now running over 110 projects across England.
Everton in the Community and the LFC Foundation, working in partnership with Merseyside Police and the Premier League, run football sessions in areas that have high incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour, including Norris Green, Croxteth, Stockbridge Village, Anfield and Breckfield, to encourage children and young people to develop their potential.
The Kickz programme has a proven track record in helping deprived and underprivileged communities in Liverpool reduce anti-social behaviour and offer young people an alternative way of life.
It is not only popular but successful, Merseyside Police having recorded that the programme contributed to a 79% reduction in crime in areas where the scheme is delivered.
Using the power of football, coaches teach young people about the dangers of gun and knife crime, gangs and other anti-social behaviour, and encourage them to open up and talk about the problems they are facing.
The coaches also educate the participants and guide them towards educational and life-changing opportunities.
Forbes Duff, Liverpool FC Foundation’s Kickz Officer, said: "Kickz uses the tool of football to engage with young people across our city, and with both clubs working closely together this means we can have a bigger impact on young people in Liverpool.
“Kickz gives young people an alternative option and with the assistance of Merseyside Police we can educate young people on the dangers of key issues such as knife crime, gun crime and gang culture."
The Kickz initiative, which now works with 19 police forces and over 60 local authorities in England, engages young people through football, breaking down barriers with the police as well as creating routes into education and employment.
"Kickz is a crucial engagement programme for young people"
Inspector Colin Lewis
More than 57,000 young people have gone through the scheme with as much as a 60% reduction in anti-social behaviour being reported in some areas where Kickz projects are operating.
Paul Nagle, Everton in the Community's Social Inclusion Manager, said: "Kickz is not just about football, it's about changing attitudes and giving local young people something productive to do. Through our work, we try to show young people different routes in life away from violence and crime.
"Our relationship with Liverpool and Merseyside Police is fantastic and this event demonstrates that Kickz is not just about giving young people something to do, but something to strive for."
Inspector Colin Lewis, Head of Youth Engagement, Merseyside Police added: "Kickz is a crucial engagement programme for young people. Not only does it offer them opportunities for contact with the clubs and football development - it also allows them to develop as young citizens.
"To see the players here is great and is a measure of the value that both clubs place on their support for young people."