Anfield legend Jamie Carragher was the VIP guest this week when a Bootle-based charity launched its new positive mental health service for children and young people across Sefton.
Staff at Venus invited the retired Liverpool and England defender to officially open the new Star Centre, based in the renovated former Orrell Arts Centre building on Linacre Lane.
Around 100 guests attended the opening ceremony, including representatives of organisations that have helped to fund the project, and partner agencies in the new service.
The Star Centre building has been refurbished with the support of the Tudor Trust, the Clothworkers Foundation, One Stop and the Steve Morgan Foundation.
The main funding for the centre’s core services has come from NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group, with additional support from the John Moores Foundation and Jamie Carragher’s own 23 Foundation.
The partners in the services include Sefton Council Well Young Person’s Team, Sefton Emotional Achievement Service, the ADHD Foundation, Alder Hey CAMHS and Mersey Care.
Venus is a well-established organisation providing a wide range of support services for children, young people, women, parents and families.
The charity has created the new centre to provide a friendly and welcoming space where young people up to the age of 18 can access information and advice on mental health issues, as well as group support and a variety of therapies.
Services on offer will include counselling, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), psychoeducation, peer support, family therapy, training for parents and group activities addressing issues such as the transition from children’s to adults’ services.
Venus Family Support Manager, Georgina Harvey, explained: “The key features of the Star Centre’s approach will be its friendliness and its informality.
“Young people will be able to self refer, and simply drop in for advice, guidance, signposting and referral to other sources of support. It will be a place they can go for someone to talk to, and a place they can walk into and ask for help.”
Peter Wong, Children Young People and Maternity Commissioning Manager for the two CCGs, added: “Making services more accessible is something that young people have told us loudly and clearly.
“We also know that we need to support services to work more closely together in meeting the emotional health and wellbeing needs of our local children and young people.
“We are pleased that we can support the Star Centre in taking forward both of these key aims, and we are proud of what the new centre will offer young people in Sefton,” added Mr Wong.
Georgina Harvey also thanked Jamie Carragher for taking time out to perform the official opening, saying his presence would help to raise the profile of the new centre across the borough.
Jamie – who grew up in Bootle’s Marsh Lane area – congratulated Venus and its partners in the Star Centre initiative, saying it would provide a much-needed new source of support for vulnerable children and young people from throughout Sefton.
The Star Centre is based within the former Orrell Arts Centre/Orrell Library building on Linacre Lane, Bootle L20 6ES.
It will be open to young people Monday to Friday from 3.30-7.30pm and on Saturdays from 1pm-4pm, with a parents/carers drop-in session earlier in the day from 10am-1pm.
For more information about the Star Centre contact Venus on 0151 474 4744.
Jamie Carragher pictured at the opening ceremony where funders, partners and supporters of the new centre watch Jane Harris of the Steve Morgan Foundation (far right) present a cheque to Georgina Harvey (left) and Lorraine Webb of charity Venus watched by young football supporters Harry Hodge (left) and Bobbi-Joe Griffiths