Liverpool, as a forward-thinking, open-minded thorn in the side of the establishment, is often at the forefront of a movement or campaign that champions a better world. Liverpool has a long and famous history of standing up for justice and fairness, be it the complete blackout of The S*n newspaper or driving a group of Neo-Nazis into a luggage locker to the sound of the Benny Hill theme tune.
Indeed, it is best to recognise the importance of people power and the role that those incredible people have played in campaigning for a better world, rather than dwelling on the awful events that caused them to take action.
So, as National Volunteers’ week 2019 draws to a close, we thought we’d take a closer look at some of the most important Liverpool charities that started in the city.
Anthony Walker was an A-Level student from Huyton who was sadly murdered in an unprovoked, racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus in 2005.
Along with Anthony’s heartbroken mother Gee and his sister Dominique, the whole of Liverpool went into a state of mourning. Outraged by the barbarity of this atrocious event, Liverpool stood in unison in condemning what was not only a heinous and dreadful assault on Anthony, but an assault on the values that Liverpool prides itself on such as acceptance and multiculturalism.
In the wake of Anthony’s murder, Gee established The Anthony Walker Foundation – a Liverpool charity dedicated to promoting racial harmony through education and physical activity. Founded in 2006, The Anthony Walker Foundation operates locally, regionally and nationally – but mainly prioritises Merseyside.
The Anthony Walker Foundation works to prevent youth involvement in hate crime by working with a diverse range of young people across racial groups.
“The foundation, and the work it does on Merseyside is so important,” said Gee Walker. She also added: “children are our future and it is crucial we do our utmost to help them understand that racism has no place in society.”
Anthony’s tragic murder shook Liverpool to the core, however, his untimely death in 2005 spawned a movement that has not only saved a lot of people, but it also reminded Liverpool of what made it so special.
Everton in the Community is one of the UK’s leading sporting charities. The community hub is considered one of the Premier League’s best schemes due to the warm-heartedness of its volunteers and its various programs.
As an invaluable service that is seen as being highly successful in making a significant social and national contribution, Everton in the Community provides opportunities for the most hard-to-reach and hard-to-help members of society.
Everton in the Community uses sport as a tool to support vulnerable people and help to improve the lives of over 20,000 people every year.
Everton in the Community supports 2,000 Liverpool charities, contributes to a 65% reduction in anti-social behaviour and a 79% reduction in crime in ‘high-risk’ areas across Merseyside and has 14 disability teams.
Rivalries aside, Everton in the Community is a wonderful and amazing organisation that has helped thousands of people across Merseyside.
Recently, Liverpool has witnessed an increase in the number of homeless people sleeping in the doorways of our city. However, in October 2018 Lawrence Kenwright, the chairman of Signature Living, launched The Cotton Street Project; a unique homeless shelter and Liverpool charity for those needing a warm place to stay.
“Through the homeless shelter, I want local people to come together and work as a community by volunteering at the shelter to ensure nobody in Liverpool spends a night on the streets” exclaimed Lawrence.
Cotton Street Is certainly unique. A comfortable, compassionate and productive environment in which to thrive, the sanctuary incorporates vibrant accommodation, social activities and professional support.
Similar to what The Rhys Jones Community Centre has achieved in Croxteth, The Cotton Street Project is engineered to bring people together. Each guest, for instance, has their own accommodation whilst everyone has 24-hour access to the site and its amenities.
Eradicating homelessness is not only an issue important to Lawrence, but it is also an issue that Liverpool is at the forefront of solving.
Liverpool is usually a unified, homely place and yet, in 2008, Rhys Jones was shot after innocently walking through a suburban carpark. Croxteth – the area in which Rhys was walking – was plagued by gang-related violence which almost tore Liverpool apart.
After Rhys was caught up in this hateful crusade for postcode supremacy, Croxteth united in unearthing those responsible. The moving image of Rhys’ parents adorned in Everton scarfs while Z-Cars sadly serenades a silent Anfield is a picture that brought the whole of Liverpool to tears.
Opened in 2013, Rhys’ parents Melanie and Stephen and his brother Owen founded The Rhys Jones Community Centre in memory of their son and brother.
The Liverpool charity is committed to and largely has brought about change in Croxteth through education and activism. “Our centre is Rhys’ legacy,” said Melanie and Stephen.
In 2018, Rhys’ Centre also launched Croxteth Healthy Minds; a campaign that provides a listening service for young people wanting to understand their mental health.
The Rhys Jones Community Centre became the fulcrum of Croxteths’ regeneration and is also a timely reminder of how Liverpool united to expel those who tried to tear the city apart.
Food poverty is a damming indictment of the state of Britain, this government and its cruel and devastating austerity programme and its sheer contempt for those struggling to make ends meet.
Britain’s economy is the seventh biggest in the world, and yet, the number of young people living in absolute poverty and therefore reliant on food banks, has risen to 3,700,000.
An invaluable service, food banks in Liverpool have helped thousands of people due to the warm-heartedness of volunteers and ordinary people.
Charities such as South, North and Central Liverpool Foodbank, Fareshare, Merseyside Youth Association and Hope +, to name but a few, are committed to helping those in need across Liverpool.
Not to detract from the amazing work theses Liverpool charities – who embody the city’s selfless and friendly nature – do but, it is an outrage that they even exist in a country as rich as Britain.
Yet another campaign that focuses on bringing people together, The Reader is a Liverpool charity that promotes the idea of ‘shared reading’ as a way to improve wellness, build resilience in tough environments and reduce social isolation.
Founded in 2008 and based in the enchanting Calderstones Park, The Reader epitomises Liverpool’s all-welcoming manner.
The Reader works with children, people in recovery from substance misuse, people with mental and physical health conditions and individuals living with dementia. Their work with those suffering from depression is a particular highlight.
The University of Liverpool’s Centre for Research into Literature, Reading and Society found a considerable improvement in the mental health of patients living with depression during the 12-month period in which they attended The Reader’s Shared Reading Groups.
“We’re really excited” said Kirsty Styles, The Reader’s National Membership Development Manager. “By providing a creative and safe space to explore our inner lives, [we] help [people] to feel connected, involved and valued.”
The Reader embodies everything that makes Liverpool so warm and welcoming.
One of the most recent and eye-catching campaigns we wish to highlight is Alfie Bradley’s Knife Angel. The 27-foot sculpture is made up of more than 100,000 weapons confiscated from 43 police forces across the country.
Created by artist Alfie Bradley and housed outside the Anglican Cathedral here in Liverpool, The Knife Angel took a year to sculpt and aims to show the impact knife crime has on people’s lives.
“Through hosting The Knife Angel at Liverpool Cathedral, we want to show solidarity with the victims of this crime and make a powerful statement to everyone who comes to visit,” said Alfie.
So, if these Liverpool charities have left you feeling inspired by and proud of our city, why not read our blog that celebrates acts of kindness that could only involve a Scouser.
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