On the 6th of February I was given the privilege of travelling up to visit Shrewsbury House, affectionately known as “The Shewsy”. The Shewsy is a youth and community centre attached to St Peter's Church in Everton, Liverpool. Everton is one of the most deprived districts in the UK where 30% live in poverty and a high percentage of citizens have long term illness or disability. Rates of cancer and heart disease are high and life expectancy is five years lower than average.

So, what is the Shewsy? 

The Shewsy was founded by masters from Shrewsbury School in 1903.
The Shewsy has been a part of Shrewsbury School life for 120 years. The day centre provides child care and food for low-income families. Throughout the week, Junior Clubs run for children aged 5 - 11 straight after school and Senior Clubs for those aged 12 – 20 run in the evenings. In addition to this, the Shewsy provides a variety of weekend activities, including residential trips and exchange visits. 

Social interactivity is so important, especially in an area where children will grow up to have twice the average rate of mental health issues. Play is essential for children's cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development. It helps them learn problem-solving skills, creativity, and resilience.

Regular meals are essential for children's growth and development. In low-income areas, families may face food insecurity, making it even more critical for children to have access to nutritious meals. Skipping meals or not having enough food can lead to malnutrition, which can have long-term effects on physical and cognitive development. With 40% of the adult population of Everton having no qualifications, employment and finance can be a problem in many families. This unfortunately leads to food insecurity in many homes. The Shewsy helps children whose families may not be able to afford nutritious snacks and meals to have food after school. 

In low-income areas where resources may be limited, children might not have as many opportunities for structured social activities outside of school. The Shewsy allows many of the kids to have social interaction outside the classroom to develop skills and more importantly, have fun. Many of the children I met at the youth centre said that being there was the best part of their day.  

Access to play, nutritious meals, and socialization opportunities can help mitigate the effects of poverty on children's academic achievement. Research has shown that children from low-income backgrounds often start school at a disadvantage compared to their peers from higher-income families. With only 10% of adults in Everton having a Level 4 qualification, there is a demand for people who are able to become teachers, police officers and accountant among the many jobs available. So, it is important that the younger generations are not bound by their background and the Shewsy allows this. With the help of the generous volunteers at the Shewsy, many of these kids are able to excel. 

As well as visiting the youth centre, we also visited the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine where we learnt about how new forms of antibiotics are created to fight the rise in health issues in Liverpool and around the rest of the country. The scientists here are working hard to find antibiotics so that antimicrobial resistance is not an issue in the future.