The Research

Ex-Everton FC player Leighton Baines and school children on the Tackling the Blues programme

The design of Tackling the Blues is informed by scientific research conducted by researchers at Edge Hill University and insight from nearly three decades of local community work by staff at Everton in the Community.

To identify the impact of the programme, this research and insight is informed by a number of methods:

  • Focus groups with children and young people
  • Validated questionnaires (KIDSCREEN-27)
  • Semi-structured interviews with Head Teachers
  • Focus groups with teachers, carers, and volunteer mentors
  • Emotional Intelligence Scale, and Trait Emotional Intelligence questionnaires with all volunteer mentors

The data reported in our impact report focuses on data from the children and young people participating in Tackling the Blues, which consists of:

  • 30 focus groups completed with participants
  • 23 participants interviewed as part of the focus groups
  • Participants aged 6-14-years-old

“Like all of our work with Everton in the Community, Tackling the Blues is underpinned by rigorous scientific research which helps us to identify the programme’s impact on the lives of children and young people, and the benefits for their schools and other community groups.”

Professor Andy Smith, Edge Hill University

Key Findings & Impact

The key findings of the focus groups show how participating in Tackling the Blues has resulted in various benefits for children and young people and the organisations (schools and young carer groups) involved.

  • All groups engaged in Tackling the Blues reported increases in self-confidence, self-esteem and reductions in anxiety
  • The emotional literacy of children and young people improved and this helped them to better manage their mental health and relationships with others
  • Tackling the Blues improved children and young people’s self-evaluation, co-operation and emotional intelligence
  • Supportive relationships established between mentors and participants were key to maintaining engagement, supporting mental health learning and building trust
  • Autonomy and decision making skills were developed by providing children and young people with choice and ownership of the activities delivered

Further Impact

Match of the Day – Leighton Baines

Tackling the Blues has featured on BBC’s Match of the Day on Sunday 26 February 2017, where Everton star Leighton Baines visited Linancre Primary School in Bootle to show his support for the programme. Baines participated in one of our classroom sessions and a game of our very own Emoji Bingo. You can watch our segment on the BBC’s website.

“Today I’ve been spending some time with these children and taken part in a game of ‘emoji bingo’. It’s been a really fun and enjoyable session but with a really important message. What is being done here is crucial – letting kids know that they can talk about things rather than bottling up emotions and normalising that helps to avoid potential problems further down the line.”

Leighton Baines, Everton FC

Read the full news story to find out more.

Health Select Committee Suicide Prevention Report 2016-17

Tackling the Blues, along with Active Blues, have both been recognised and praised in the Health Select Committee’s Suicide Prevention Report released on Thursday 16th March 2017. The Committee visited Goodison Park on Monday 14th November 2016, to find out what is being done in the Merseyside community to help tackle issues relating to suicide and mental health. Case studies from both Professor Andy Smith and Michael Salla, Director of Health at Everton in the Community, were presented to the Committee, demonstrating how the two projects have been contributing to the improvement and prevention of mental health illnesses. Professor Andy Smith told the Committee about the benefits of focusing on a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing and developing a culture where mental health is a priority.

“It was an honour to be invited to speak to the Health Select Committee, as part of its national enquiry on suicide prevention, to discuss our collaborative sports-based mental health research with Everton in the Community. To have our partnership work recognised by the Committee as a model of good practice, and an example of how to practically implement aspects of the government’s national suicide prevention strategy, is especially pleasing. It is further testimony to our longstanding commitment towards adopting a collaborative, impact-focused, approach to research and community working which is of real benefit to the lives of others.”

Professor Andy Smith, Edge Hill University