MERSEYSIDE's Chief Constable will this morning launch a countywide Christian festival.

Bernard Hogan-Howe will join the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, to open Merseyfest at Croxteth Hall at 9am.

Organised by the region's churches, the week-long festival will see 8,000 volunteers taking part in a variety of projects aimed at improving quality of life in communities across Merseyside.

Mr Hogan-Howe said: "Merseyfest is an excellent way for people of all walks of life to work together for a safer and more caring community.

"Merseyside Police are supporting this event by working with organisers and communities to help make it happen."

Throughout the week, volunteers will be working to improve deprived areas by building sports facilities, providing drop-in cafes and counselling services to advise people on how to deal with debt.

They will also be carrying out environmental clean-ups, organising youth events and conducting care work with elderly people.

In one of the projects in Toxteth, Liverpool FC coaches have offered to run sessions for local children.

Through the week, the teenagers can win prizes donated by the club, including tours of Anfield stadium, presented by Bishop Jones and the city's Lord Mayor.

Police officers will also be involved with a number of projects, including crime prevention days and organising activities designed to stop young people committing offences.

The force is also sponsoring an award for the Best Merseyfest Community Impact Project. The winners will be presented with a shield and £250 to be reinvested into developing and sustaining the project.

Around 2,500 people have converged on the park where they will camp, while they take part in the projects.

However, a further 5,500 people from the region are expected to join them in the 250 regeneration schemes, which are also supported by local authorities and community groups.

It is believed Merseyfest will provide a total of more than 100,000 hours of community service.

The festival will culminate in a party in Croxteth Park on Saturday, where more than 50,000 people are expected to attend. Members of the public are invited to join in.

The hundreds of Merseyfest events include . . .


Toxteth: Police sports & football coaching at Park Road Sports Centre (Monday to Friday, afternoons).


Walton Sports Centre: Crime prevention advice and Crown Green Bowling Competition for over 55s (Wednesday from 9.30am).


Heswall: Temporary skateboard park at the United Reformed Church, Telegraph Road (Monday to Friday, 10am-6pm).


Whiston: Clean up campaign and youth project at Lickers Community Centre with stalls and bouncy castle (Thursday, 6.30-9.30pm).


Windle Quarry: Clean up (Monday to Friday, 2-4.30pm).


Formby: Pinewoods maintenance (Monday to Friday, afternoons).