Monday 17 February 2014
Everton defender Phil Jagielka revisited his youth recently when he visited one of the Everton Free School sites at City of Liverpool College to find out more about the opportunities it offers young people across Merseyside.
"I'm blown away by the facilities that are on offer here to these young people and the high standards that are being displayed by everyone"
Jagielka had his own personal tour guide around the school in the form of Poppy, a former student who, with the help of the facility, has turned her life around and has since gone on to achieve six GCSEs. She is currently studying an apprenticeship with Everton in the Community focusing on social inclusion.
Whilst visiting one of the four Free School sites across Merseyside, the England international was given an insight into the diversity of the school and the high quality opportunities and experiences it offers these young people. He spent his time sitting in on a science lesson and chatting to students participating in a sports session before taking his seat at a captains’ table forum to discuss the key attributes of being a good leader.
"I knew a bit of basic information about the Free School before I came but after looking around here today I’m blown away by the facilities that are on offer here to these young people and the high standards that are being displayed by everyone," said Jagielka. "Poppy is a brilliant advocate of the school and what you can achieve by coming here.
"She didn't stop smiling all afternoon when we were re-visiting her old classrooms and tutors. Not everyone thrives in a traditional educational environment and a facility like this can help you find the right path to follow."
Richard Cronin, Assistant Principal of the School echoed the Blues captain's thoughts. "Everton Free School is going from strength-to-strength and we were delighted Phil dropped in and spent time with our students," he said. "Twentyfourteen is a big year for us; we will be two years old in September and will be celebrating this by moving into our new permanent home on Spellow Lane.
"Our biggest achievement, however, are our students; they continue to amaze us, grow and develop into bright young adults. We are all very proud of them and will continue to strive for the best for all young people across Merseyside."
"We will continue to strive for the best for all young people across Merseyside"
Launched in September 2012 by Everton in the Community, Everton Free School caters for young people aged 14-19 and offers an alternative education pathway to those who have become detached from traditional schooling. The school delivers an innovative, personalised curriculum supported by local stakeholders, industry partners and Further and Higher Education and is currently accessed by over 100 participants.
Everton in the Community are the first club community scheme in the country to be awarded funding by the government to open a Free School, a ground-breaking initiative for young people across Merseyside.
The club's official charity also celebrated its silver jubilee year in style by reaching their £1million fundraising target to help improve the lives of more people across Merseyside and the north-west.
"Our silver jubilee campaign has been a roaring success"
Everton in the Community revealed its ambitious target – set almost one year beforehand to the day – had been achieved during a half-time celebration at the Blues' 2-1 Barclays Premier League home win over Aston Villa, which was dedicated to the charity.
Chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale was joined on the pitch by cruiserweight boxer and life-long Everton fan Tony Bellew to reveal the fundraising total of £1,013,128 to the Goodison faithful, who had loyally supported the charity's jubilee campaign over the previous 12 months.
"Our silver jubilee campaign has been a roaring success," said Barrett-Baxendale. "The support from fans, grant funders, organisations and individuals from across the region has been phenomenal and I would like to thank every supporter who has contributed to the success of the campaign along with all the staff, participants and volunteers who helped make this possible."
To reach the £1million total, the charity undertook a high-profile fundraising campaign working with Everton Football Club, its partners and, of course, its fans.
Highlights of the year-long campaign include the incredibly popular '12 Shades of Blue' calendar, which gave fans a glimpse of the players as they have never seen them before – and raised over £32,000, last season's dedicated birthday fixture to mark 25 years of Everton in the Community, and Marouane Fellaini turning his famous afro silver to raise £25,000.
"The charity remains hugely ambitious for its future and shows no signs of slowing down," added Barrett-Baxendale. "We enter 2014 with significant aspirations to create a community campus close to Goodison Park to house all of our programmes and expand and enrich the opportunities provided to local people by reaching out even further to those who require support."
In recent years, the charity has helped more than 250 local unemployed people become 'job ready' through its 'Everton 4 Employment' scheme; established the 'Imagine Your Goals' mental health programme with Mersey Care NHS Trust; and runs the biggest football programme for people with disabilities of any club in the world, with 26 teams for all ages and abilities, more than 30 players representing their country at international level and two players representing ParalympicsGB at London 2012.
For more information on Everton Free School visit www.evertonfreeschool.com