Jags Lends A Hand

Everton defender Phil Jagielka visited a care home recently to help a group of young people landscape a garden for residents.

The England international dropped by the Bupa Mersey Parks Nursing and Residential Home in Toxteth, to see how some young Everton volunteers have been donating their time to transform a garden.

The young people are part of Everton in the Community’s National Citizen Service (NCS) programme and for the past six months have been visiting the home as part of their social action project to interact with the residents and carry out odd jobs.

The group recently decided to transform one of the gardens for the residents and secured 500 worth of funding to undertake the project. Local garden centre Aigburth Hall Nurseries also kindly donated a range of plants to help the young people complete the initiative.

Over the course of several weeks the volunteers weeded the garden, trimmed hedges, dug new boarders, including one in the shape of the Everton crest which contains flowers to depict the tower, and planted a range of shrubs and bedding plants to add colour and encourage wildlife into the garden.

Phil was delighted to lend a hand and even helped with some of the planting before officially opening the rejuvenated outdoor space, which has been aptly named ‘Goodison Garden’, for everyone to enjoy.

Phil Jagielka, who is Everton in the Community’s player ambassador for sport, health and physical activity, said: “I was really impressed by what the volunteers have achieved. The garden looks great and I love the Everton theme. I hope all the residents will enjoy this when the weather gets a bit nicer.

“I think the project is really positive and a great way for young people to meet new friends and spend their time. I hope the guys are really proud of their work because they should be.”

The Club’s official charity piloted the NCS programme with 30 young people last summer who were looking to develop life skills and make a real difference locally.

The project involved the participants attending two week-long residential courses, where they learned vital skills and were educated on identifying ways in which they can improve their surroundings by devising and implementing a social action project.

The group of five decided to undertake a project to help older people and bridge the generation gap as they believe older people can provide them with life advice and guidance. They feel that older citizens may have a distorted view of youngsters and saw their social action project as an opportunity to change the older generation’s opinion of young people today.

Joanne Andrew, manager of Bupa Mersey Parks Nursing and Residential Home, said: “One of the main things that we have found really helpful is the groups’ interaction with the residents. The fact that they are representing Everton coupled with their youth has really interested the residents and more importantly that they actually wanted to come in and tidy the gardens and chat away has been fantastic. They have really enjoyed it.

“It’s nice to see young people wanting to help because we are keen to have strong links with the local community, so to have guys come forward and offer their help for free is just brilliant. I would encourage more young people to get involved in projects like this as it benefits our residents.”

The NCS scheme is funded by the Cabinet Office and is part of the Government’s ‘Big Society’ agenda to give local organisations and people the power to make positive changes where they live. Everton in the Community is a delivery partner of Catch22.

Everton in the Community is recruiting more young people for this summer’s course. For more information call 0151 530 5253.