Launched in 2012, Safe Hands is a five-year project that targets young offenders in the Merseyside area, aiming to help them integrate back into society after leaving secure care. The scheme will support 150 individuals, both male and female aged between 15 and 21, utilising education, sport, media and the arts, to help get them back on their feet and into training, employment or further education, to prevent them from reoffending.
The project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund ‘Youth in Focus’ programme, works with young offenders prior to release with an individual support package being implemented to prepare them for the outside world.
Once released, the participants undertake an extensive programme of activities tailored towards their individual needs to help them integrate back into and build positive relationships with their communities.
At the end of the programme cycle, it is hoped each participant will be supported into either employment, further education or the Safe Hands Peer Mentoring Programme.
Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Chief Executive Officer of Everton in the Community, said: “This project will enable us to enhance and enrich the work we do as part of our social inclusion programme. We have in the past had great success using the power of sport and, more specifically, our iconic brand to engage vulnerable and hard-to-reach members of our society. We have made a tremendous impact with our youth programmes and have many success stories from young people who have turned their lives around as a result of the help, support and guidance offered by members of our community team.
“This new initiative will provide the opportunity for Everton in the Community to work in partnership with experts from arts organisations and young offenders’ institutions across Merseyside to focus on the personal needs and aspirations of young people leaving secure care. This project has been designed to prevent the young people from reoffending, offering a diversion from negative social influences and equipping them with better coping strategies and support structures to deal with life events."
The initiative has deservedly drawn much praise and plaudits from a number of quarters during its time in operation. The 2013 Northwest Football Awards saw Safe Hands claim the ‘Community Initiative of the Year' gong, seeing off competition from Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers.