"Before I got involved with this project I just sat in all day, every day. It was depressing, but now I’ve got something to look forward to and I’ve made some good friends..."
Everton in the Community (Everton Football Clubs official charity) has operated the Premier League Health project in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, since August 2009.
Funding from 'The Football Pools' allowed Everton in the Community to operate this project and to employ a 'Men’s Health Coordinator' to oversee the development of this project over a 3-year period.
This funding amounts to £89,000 (August 2009 – August 2012) and incorporates general project development costs. Additional, funding from the 'Pfizer Foundation' and 'Heart Research UK' allowed Everton in the Community to employ a part time wellbeing advisor to oversee the health and well-being of all programme participants and to deliver the men’s health sessions.
The Premier League Health programme addresses pertinent men’s health issues in the city of Liverpool, with a particular focus on six key regional health themes:
- Smoking Cessation
- Alcohol and Drug misuse
- Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease
- Mental Health
- Sexual Health
The 'Premier League Health' programme uses the power of football as a vehicle to engage men (18-35 yrs) in physical activity and health related behaviours. The programme engages men in weekly physical activity sessions alongside the delivery of health workshops/drop in sessions offering regular contact with NHS referral services and partner organisations (such as smoking, cancer and sexual health clinics) in an environment that men already go to and feel comfortable in.
The project operates weekly evening football, circuit training and boxing sessions, implemented in consultation with existing and prospective participants. Additionally, we operate series of 12 week programmes with targeted populations such as men who are classified as homeless, obese and/or recovering drug users. Participants have their Body Mass Index, Resting Heart Rate and Blood Pressure monitored on a regular basis and some also visit our partner university (Liverpool John Moores University) for in depth health screening and cardiac assessments.
The project has successfully engaged the general population and also with men whose traditional communication strategies are limited through a lack of contact with health services and challenging social circumstances. In just two years, the project has achieved direct quality engagement with over 120 men, many of whom are living in homeless shelters, recovering from substance misuse and long term unemployed. Our innovative project also reaches thousands of men through media and marketing campaigns at Everton Football Club, in some cases helping to capture early cancer indicators in some individuals through cancer awareness marketing in stadium toilets.
This project has achieved a positive impact on men’s health and fitness, measured by in-depth screening at Liverpool John Moores University, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences. A reduction in participants’ total body mass, fat mass, percentage fat, blood pressure and resting heart rate have been evidenced alongside an increase in lean muscle mass, endurance, social capital and self-efficacy. Project findings are disseminated at regional, national, European and international conferences and published in international journals.
Our programme has been shortlisted by the World Health Organisation as an example of best practice for promoting physical activity and health in socially disadvantaged groups.
Quotes From Participating Men:
Before I got involved with this project I just sat in all day, every day. It was depressing, but now I’ve got something to look forward to and I’ve made some good friends. I can’t believe it is delivered through Everton FC as well, I love Everton, it’s my team. It’s great for me because I’m feeling fitter and the staff check my blood pressure too. I’m a lot healthier now.
Tony, Project Participant, 21, Liverpool
Ian, Project Participant, 32, Liverpool
Dave, Project Participant, 28, Liverpool
Leeds Beckett University
Dr Kathryn Curran BSc, MSc. PhDLeeds Beckett University
City Campus Leeds, LS1 3HE
United KingdomTelephone: 0113 81 23205