Everton legend Snodin goes back to school to ‘Tackle the Blues’

Everton legend Ian Snodin (centre) joins pupils from St. John’s Primary School for a Tackling the Blues session

Everton legend Ian Snodin went back to school this week to support Tackling the Blues, the award-winning project run by Edge Hill University, Everton in the Community (EitC) and Tate Liverpool which uses sport and the arts to help schoolchildren at risk of developing mental health problems. 

The 57-year-old was at St. John’s Primary School in Southport, one of a number of schools supported by the project which is being featured as part of this week’s national MadeAtUni campaign highlighting the role universities play in supporting their local communities and their health and wealth recovery from the impact of Covid. 

The project so far has reached over 2,000 pupils across the Northwest region, combining classroom well-being mentoring sessions with sport, physical activity and the arts to contribute to the prevention and early intervention of mental health problems in children and young people. Student mentors from Edge Hill University deliver the sessions in schools, helping to support their employability opportunities after graduating. 

Throughout this school year, Tackling the Blues has held virtual online sessions with schools in response to growing concerns about pupils’ well-being during lockdown but returned to the classrooms across the region during April. 

The programme also responded with delivering one day Tackling the Blues inputs to reach new schools – just in time for the end of term. Snodin, who is an Everton Ambassador took part in special end of term sports day celebration with pupils from the school and staff from Edge Hill and EitC. 

Said Snodin of his visit to the project: “I loved it and I’ve missed being able to do this sort of thing. I’ve got grandchildren myself, so I know how difficult it’s been for these children over the last year or so because they’re used to going to school and being with their friends. 

“It’s been tough for them being at home during the lockdowns, so for Everton in the Community, Edge Hill University and Tate Liverpool to have come together like this to help them during those times and now be able to get back in the classroom with them is fantastic. From the minute we walked in you could see the smile on their faces.” 

Leah, 10, who took part in the session, said: “I really like being part of Tackling the Blues, the mentors are amazing. My favourite part is the PE sessions because I love doing sport even though sometimes, I might not win. Being around a famous ex- Everton footballer was great because I support Everton. Most people in my family support Everton as well so I can’t wait to tell them.

“We do lots of mental health and well-being as well as the sport. It’s really helped build up my confidence, and helped me to talk to new people.” 

Emily McCurrie, Partnership Development & Engagement Manager at Edge Hill University, project manages Tackling the Blues said: “It was fantastic to be here and see the project in action with the children and the mentors from the University. To have Ian here to support the day has been brilliant and to see all the hard work that Everton in the Community, the University and Tate Liverpool put in, and the impact it has on the children is great. 

“Having the three different partners delivering the project brings a number of benefits in terms of helping the schools to tackle mental health with the children, and it’s brilliant to see it all come together. The children are learning how to deal with their emotions and this, along with helping their mental health literacy, is so important especially with everything that’s happened in the last year.

“There is often a perception that universities exist separately from their communities but projects like Tackling the Blues show that isn’t the case.” 

For more information on Tackling the Blues visit their website. To find out more about MadeAtUni visit [email protected].

Empowering students to become mental health champions

A team of student mentors from Edge Hill University have shared their personal experiences of training to become mental health champions for award-winning programme Tackling the Blues. 

The mentors have completed a major programme of training to boost their mental health literacy and enhance their employability skills since joining Tackling the Blues. The programme is a sport and arts-based education programme developed in partnership between Edge Hill University, Everton in the Community and Tate Liverpool. 

To date, Tackling the Blues has supported over 400 Edge Hill students to complete Chasing the Stigma’s Ambassador of Hope training. This training focusses on how to talk about mental health and illness, how to effectively find help and signpost using the Hub of Hope and what to do in a mental health emergency. 

Additional training sessions have seen mentors become certified Youth Mental Health First Aid Champions, as well as complete social and emotional courses in Psychological First Aid: Supporting Children and Young People,  Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) early Trauma online learning and Zero Suicide Alliance

The knowledge and skills gained through  mental health training were implemented by Tackling the Blues mentors during University Mental Health Day on 4th March 2021. The mentors designed and delivered a student peer-to-peer event including a host of creative and interactive workshops addressing current issues in mental health and wellbeing. 

From enhancing their delivery of Tackling the Blues programme to children and young people across the North West, to boosting their employability, skills and confidence, the mentors reflect on how the training has helped them. 

Christopher Siu

Christopher Siu, 20, a Sports Coaching & Development student, said: “The Tackling the Blues training programme has definitely opened up new insights on mental health and improved my literacy around the subject. I believe I am now more confident in presenting myself and the skills I have acquired to potential employers. The training I’ve received influenced the way I delivered my part during the University Mental Health Day event because, at the time, I was very nervous and afraid of speaking about my personal experience with mental health and not knowing if I was using the correct terminology. However, since undergoing the training, I was able to efficiently deliver my part with confidence.”

Elise Rendell

Elise Rendell, 22, an MSc student in Sport, Physical Activity & Mental Health, said: “Having seen a few of my friends struggle with their mental health and having struggled living on my own while at university, I’ve wanted to help people through that difficult time. After I started my Masters at Edge Hill, I was given the option to apply for Tackling the Blues and I saw it as a fantastic opportunity to try and help younger children to be more aware of their feelings and their mental health. I feel that the Tackling the Blues accredited training has given a massive boost for my employability as it’s given me exposure to working with children and young people, as well as having the experience of planning and delivering the sessions myself.” 

Molly Harrison

Molly Harrison, 21, an MSc student in Sport, Physical Activity & Mental Health, said: “During the University Mental Health Day event, we focused on teaching the students a range of coping mechanisms to help them deal with their mental health and the wellbeing of others while at university. We also wanted to raise awareness of mental health in general and some of the misconceptions around it. We were able to pass on the learnings from our own training to the students to help boost their mental literacy. Personally, the training has improved my skills as a Tackling the Blues mentor, and I enjoy being able to help other people open up about how they’re feeling and empowering them with the tools to understand and articulate it.” 

Taigh Wilson

Taigh Wilson, 21, a Sports Management & Coaching student, said: “The amount of training we have received has really developed my knowledge of mental health. It’s taught me how to talk about the issue appropriately and help others to understand the importance of emotional literacy. On a personal level, my presentation and communication skills have improved a lot through the programme, and I’ve noticed a big boost in my confidence levels too. Tackling the Blues has opened my eyes to pursuing a career in community sport, which I wouldn’t have realised if it wasn’t for the experiences that I’ve had access to through the programme.” 

Charlotte Hall

Charlotte Hall, 20, a Sports and Exercise Science student, said: “The training helped to inform my approach and delivery of my role as a Tackling the Blues mentor at a special educational needs (SEN) school. We have received certificates for all of the training courses completed and it‘s allowed us to develop a lot of transferable skills. I feel that the training has enhanced all of the mentors’ skillsets, especially for those wanting to pursue a career in mental health or working with children.” 

Supported by funding from the Office for Students, Research England and the Premier League Charitable Fund, Tackling the Blues uses a student focussed model to provide innovative ways in engaging students in knowledge exchange to improve their knowledge, understanding and experiences of mental health in education and local communities.  

Students from the Faculty of Education or the Department of Sport and Physical Activity who are interested in finding out more about Tackling the Blues and how they can get involved in the 2021/2022 academic year are encouraged to visit the new Tackling the Blues website to find out more information.  

Tackling the Blues welcomes six new recruits as part of expansion programme

Top L-R: Rachel Wilcock, Aston Monro, Dr Emma Curd
Bottom L-R: James Ratcliffe, Emily McCurrie, Phil McClure

Award-winning mental health programme Tackling the Blues has appointed six new recruits to grow activities at a time when mental health has never been more important. 

Delivered by Edge Hill University, Everton in the Community and Tate Liverpool, the programme promotes mental health in education through sports, physical activity and the arts.  

Tackling the Blues is delivered by students and staff across Edge Hill’s Department of Sport and Physical Activity and Faculty of Education and, since its launch in 2015, has engaged with almost 1,000 young people across Merseyside and West Lancashire.  

Funding for the new recruits follows on from a £527,000 funding award from the Office for Students and Research England earlier this year in recognition of the vital impact it has on the student experience. The programme received the award for demonstrating the benefits it brings to students, graduates and external partners through involvement in knowledge exchange activities. 

Emily McCurrie has joined Edge Hill’s Faculty of Education as the Partnership Development and Engagement Manager and will spend the first two years of her post leading the operational activity of Tackling the Blues. Prior to joining the programme, Emily lived in Scotland for 18 years, where she studied health psychology and worked as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in the NHS. 

Emily will focus on developing partnership engagement with schools and education providers to create opportunities for student employability, work experience and enrichment activities. 

Tate Liverpool has appointed Dr Emma Curd and Phil McClure as Tackling the Blues Coordinators to oversee the development and delivery of the new arts strand and they will work to encourage young people to use art as a tool to explore, understand and aid their emotional health and wellbeing. 

Emma is an artist, facilitator and researcher, who uses creative and participatory methods to create spaces for discussion, collaboration and co-production. During her career, she has facilitated workshops and learning programmes in galleries, museums, libraries and higher education institutions, while Phil was previously the Lead for Participation and Democracy at Halton Youth Provision, where he supported young people dealing with issues around substance abuse, hidden harm and emotional health and wellbeing. In addition to this, he led on LGBTQ+ youth work in the borough. 

Everton in the Community has recruited James Ratcliffe as a new Tackling the Blues Coordinator to help develop the programme’s sports and physical activity strand. James previously completed his MSc in Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health at Edge Hill, where he gained experience as a lead mentor on Tackling the Blues. 

Edge Hill has recruited two Research Assistants, Rachel Wilcock and Aston Monro, who will be responsible for measuring the impact of the programme on children and young people and will evaluate how student mentors benefit from knowledge exchange opportunities. 

Rachel joins the team following three years in another Research Assistant role at Edge Hill, where she conducted programme evaluations for community-based programmes that address mental health and suicide concerns in the North West.  

Aston has recently graduated from Edge Hill with an MSc in Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health, during which time he received a bursary from the UEFA Foundation to work alongside Tackling the Blues as a mentor and researcher. 

Professor of Sport and Physical Activity, Andy Smith, and Dr Helen O’Keeffe, from the Faculty of Education, both lead on the project at Edge Hill.

Prof Smith said: “It is fantastic to be expanding our team as we reach such a significant point in the programme’s journey. 

“To date, Tackling the Blues has engaged with a thousand young people across Merseyside and West Lancashire with the aim to positively impact the lives and mental health of our communities. In such uncertain times for the world, we are looking forward to extending our reach and influence to help even more children and young people in the region to promote mental, physical and emotional literacy and improve their self-esteem and confidence, with the help of our student community.” 

Michael Salla, Everton in the Community Director of Health and Sport, said: “Building on the success of the programme since its launch in 2015, this addition of high-quality staff will allow us to better address the increasing prevalence of poor mental health among children and young people. The programme has demonstrated significant improvements with increasing mental wellbeing, reducing anxiety and increasing physical activity levels, which are all key areas and particularly during the current pandemic.”  

Dr Deborah Riding, Programme Manager, Children & Young People at Tate Liverpool, said: “Working in partnership with Edge Hill University and Everton in the Community in this way gives us, collectively, an exciting opportunity to embed a new way for children and young people with their schools and communities to engage with mental health. More than ever, given the current situation, children and young people need opportunities to develop their confidence and resilience through creative and cultural activity, raising aspirations and positively impacting on their wellbeing. We hope the expansion of the project can make a significant difference in the lives of many children and young people across the North West.” 

From January 2021, the Tackling the Blues team is excited to recommence its engagement activities with schools across the region. Click here to find out the latest news about Tackling the Blues.

Flagship mental health programme shortlisted for national award


Edge Hill University and Everton in the Community’s flagship children’s mental health programme has been shortlisted for a national award for its positive impact across Merseyside.

Tackling the Blues (TtB), a sport and education-based mental health programme delivered in partnership with the official charity of Everton Football Club has been shortlisted by the UK Sports Journalists Association in their ‘Sport for Social Change’ category at the British Sports Awards.

Across Liverpool 78 per cent of five to 15-year-olds with anxiety or depression are not in contact with mental health services.

By working in schools across the city, TtB targets these children and young people as well of those who are at risk of developing mental illness.

Emoji bingo, peer mentoring and physical activities are used to increase self-esteem and reduce anxiety whilst helping them build positive relationships with peers and external agencies.

The latest impact report for TtB, which reaches over 650 young people in schools and community groups, also shows the programme increases confidence, improves decision making and mental health knowledge (literacy) and reduces isolation and loneliness. A 12-year-old participant, said:

“I think TtB is brilliant it made me think that if something has happened in the past you can talk to them (teachers/staff). When I got bullied online and felt sad I told one of your staff (running the session) and they helped me a lot. It helped me to be brave and not suffer all the  time because of it.”

Andy Smith, Professor of Sport and Physical Activity at Edge Hill University, said:

“We’re delighted to be nominated for such a prestigious award which is attended by many of the major sports writers, editors, photographers and broadcasters. We’re the only university nominated, and the judging criteria considers impact, reach, sustainability and innovation. These are all key elements of the co-produced programme that we’ve delivered with Everton in the Community over the last three years and it’s very gratifying that its evidence-based impact in making a real difference to the lives of hundreds of children has been recognised once again.”

Michael Salla, Director of Health and Sport at Everton in the Community, said:

“Half of all adult mental illnesses – excluding dementia – are first experienced by the age of 14 so early intervention is vitally important. To be recognised by the sporting world for how we use sport as a tool to promote mental health awareness and tackle mental illness is fantastic and we have plans to develop the programme further over the coming months.”

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony in the Tower of London on 6 December. To read more about TtB please click here