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'Everton helped me turn my life around'

11 Aug 2020
Everton in the Community, We Are One Team

A Liverpool fan benefiting from Everton's 41 Goodison programme says it gave him opportunities to move away from gang life

Joe is a Liverpool fan and lives a stone's throw from Goodison Park, the home of Everton, and it is thanks to his beloved team's city rivals that he has turned his life around to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only four years ago, when he was 16, Joe was referred to the club's charity, Everton in the Community (EitC), and its "41 Goodison" programme after concerns around his involvement in gangs and difficulties at home.

The programme offers people aged 8-19-years-old opportunities to make life changes by developing confidence and raising aspirations while providing paths into education, training and employment.

"I was not on a good path, my brother was copying me and also getting into trouble. When EITC came around it seemed a good opportunity to get some support and make a change."

Joe*

With a lot of hard work and support, Joe got his life back on track and in February this year secured a job working on the National Health Service's track-and-trace contact line.

"I am a Liverpool fan - but what Everton have done for me is amazing," says Joe. "I was getting into trouble and not attending school. I was not on a good path, my brother was copying me and also getting into trouble.

"When EitC came around it seemed a good opportunity to get some support and make a change."

But when his girlfriend lost her job at the start of lockdown, Joe was the sole bread-winner and struggled to afford essential items such as food.

Helping hand

Joe's mum and younger brother, who have also received regular support through EitC, made staff aware of the situation.

After discussions with him, the 41 Goodison team provided Joe and his girlfriend four weeks' food support and utilities, including a much-needed new mattress.

"Money was tight and so having the food and utilities support just helps ease our monthly outgoings and ensures we have enough money for the month," says Joe.

"It has reduced my worries about money and meant we can relax, knowing each week we have food and a warm house with electricity."

Everton donates food parcels for Blues Family campaign

And having received life-changing support twice from Everton, the 20-year-old now wants to help others.

"They have put together a CV for me, got me more qualifications and have given me the confidence to apply for jobs," he says. "If I didn't go to Everton, I don't think I would have got a job after there - and who knows what path I may have gone down?

"It has got me away from trouble and opened up my options for the future.

"It has also made me want to work at Everton and be a mentor to the young people that were in my position.

"I want to give back to the community and build a career there. I am definitely going to do this and hope that my experiences can help others keep out of trouble."

*Joe's name has been changed.

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