Leadership diaries: 'Returning to a 'new

Richard Kenyon, CEO of Everton in the Community provides an insight into a week behind the scenes of leading the charity through a global pandemic and returning to face-to-face delivery.


As the official charity of Everton Football Club, Everton in the Community supports the most vulnerable and in-need individuals of Merseyside through more than 40 programmes, tackling social issues prevalent across the area.

My working week starts with a Microsoft Teams call with the charity’s directors, where we go through news and updates from the previous week as well as planning the week ahead.

These virtual meetings have been really valuable while we have been working from home and this was an important one as we plan for our programmes to start returning to face-to-face delivery.

We have four directors within Everton in the Community – all of whom are on the call – they each spearhead their own area of focus; two of our directors are focused on the development and delivery of social programmes tackling issues such as mental health, disability, employment, education and youth engagement; one focuses on the development and sustainability of the charity including income generation and the other oversees the operations, resource and finances of the charity.

We pride ourselves on being a diverse and wide-ranging charity that is open and inclusive to all and that means that we have to stay on top of key issues and developments across Liverpool City Region and when we see a need for support, we act.

The pandemic presented many challenges for many local, national and international charities and, whilst it ground all of our face-to-face delivery to a halt, we used it as an opportunity to evolve and transform how our programmes are our delivered. All of our programmes were brought online and we introduced a new initiative called ‘Blue Family’ to support people in the region who were facing challenges brought about by Covid-19, these were often local families who had fallen into financial crisis.

The pandemic has brought profound change to our communities and, in line with our mantra of seeing a need and acting, we have responded by adding several new programmes to what we provide.

These include expanding our mental health programmes and initiatives tackling digital poverty, uniform poverty and social isolation. I follow up this group meeting with individual meetings with our Directors and Programme Managers and feel greatly encouraged – and very proud – to hear about how efficiently our return to face-to-face delivery plans are being executed. It will be great to see our programmes back to how they used to be soon – and being able to see the impact we have on individuals and their families in person.

Tuesday begins with another Microsoft Teams call, this time with the charity’s Trustees and colleagues around our Blue Family campaign and the direction that this initiative will take in future.

Although much of society is returned to ‘normal’ life, we know of many individuals and families who will remain in crisis – and we are absolutely committed to supporting them for as long as necessary.

We are planning for our ‘Blue Family’ initiative to evolve to provide highly tailored support to these individuals and signpost them to our new and existing programmes and other support available across the city region.

The extension of this initiative means we will again need to manage a programme of capacity building – something we have done successfully as the charity has doubled in size in the last three to four years – at the charity and my next call is focused on how we can move this programme forward effectively and sustainably.

During the pandemic, much of the work done on the Blue Family campaign was carried out by colleagues across the Charity and Football Club who were seconded on to the project as a short-term measure and by our team of quite brilliant volunteers.

We have more than 200 active volunteers who support us on all kinds of diverse activities and it was so pleasing that their efforts – and the work of our volunteer management team – was recognised by receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service recently.

Today I meet with our Director of Health and Sport to discuss our ongoing plans to build a purpose-built mental health facility close to Goodison Park that will be readily available for the whole community. We are soon due to break ground on the construction of The People’s Place and hope it will be open by summer 2022. We have been delivering a wide range of mental health programmes suitable for all demographics for more than 14 years and this building will house these programmes, as well as provide specialist advice and support around suicide awareness and prevention and signpost to external agencies.

We have been able to make the vision of The People’s Place come to life thanks to fundraising campaigns backed by the general public and our fans but also due to the fantastic support of a number of businesses and individuals, including Causeway Technologies founder, and Evertonian, Phil Brown who was compelled to give significant six-figure financial backing to the cause after hearing one of our staff take part in an interview on BBC Five Live.

Whilst on site I called into The People’s Hub – one of our community facilities where much of our programme delivery takes place – to watch one of our mental health sessions, Imagine Your Goals, and catch up with the programme manager and participants.

Imagine Your Goals was our first mental health programme and uses the power of football to bring together like-minded men and women in a friendly and welcoming environment to talk about any struggles they are facing as well as giving them the chance to stay fit and access opportunities relating to employment, volunteering and education.

Thursday begins with a meeting with our Director of Youth Engagement and Employability for a monthly review on our Impact Model programme and to explore ways in which we can expand this to better support even more young people across Merseyside.

Our Impact Model consists of a series of early intervention programmes to specifically tackle the barriers facing young people in attaining a good education and subsequent employment and currently supports around 5,000 young adults each year and inspires them to reach their full potential.

Last year, we secured multi-million pound funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation to expand this programme into South Liverpool where 40% of young people aged 16+ have no qualifications and 40% of the children in the area live in poverty and we chat about the results and impact we have seen to date as well as ways in which to capitalise on this in the months ahead.

My afternoon includes a meeting with our Director of Finance and Operations to undertake a finance review of the last 12 months. 2019/20 saw us our highest ever revenue. This was partly due to the generosity of our fans and also the Club’s Majority Shareholder and Chairman who each donated hundreds of thousands of pounds in support of our Blue Family initiative, as well as the ongoing support of key funding partners such as the Premier League and the PFA and new grants and corporate partnerships secured as a result of us developing our programmes during the pandemic.

Everton in the Community has an excellent relationship with Everton Football Club and the needs of the community are at the heart of everything that the Club and charity represents. We recently received Government approval for a community-led legacy development at Goodison Park which will see the Club’s current home redeveloped to provide a range of community assets after the Club has moved to a new stadium.

This development, currently known as the Goodison Park Legacy Project, aims to deliver high quality and affordable housing, community-led retail spaces, a multi-purpose health centre and green space to Liverpool 4. Friday morning is spent taking part in a workshop with Club and charity colleagues, and external stakeholders about the project, next steps and assessing the impact and benefits this will bring to the local community.

Friday afternoon is spent reviewing a presentation that we will soon be delivering to a number of stakeholders who are supporting our recently launched E-STEAM project. This initiative has been developed to inspire and engage young people into careers relating to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths and help close the education inequality gap in socially deprived areas.

We will be presenting the impact of the programme since it launched in Spring 2021 and updating stakeholders on our future plans and how we plan to roll this out more widely across more of our programmes to boost employability skills amongst our existing participants.

If you would like to submit a leadership diary, please email melissa.moody@charitytimes.com

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