15 August 2020

Top award for mental health sports programme


A sports programme that aims to help prevent people with mental health conditions from becoming socially isolated, and uses physical exercise to improve health and wellbeing, has scooped a top Football Association award.

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust's Recovery Through Sport programme has been named the winner of the Project of the Year Award at the Gloucestershire Football Association and McDonald's Grassroots Football Awards 2020.

The programme, which is run by the Trust's Early Intervention in Psychosis Team in South Gloucestershire, was set up to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of people with mental health conditions. 

Jacob Kelly, Mental Health Support Worker, who runs the Recovery Through Sport programme, said: "We are delighted to have won this award in recognition of the positive work we are doing to provide opportunities to take part in physical activity to improve mental health. It's well known that exercise and physical activity can have a positive impact on mental health and this is certainly the experience of the participants in this programme.

Before the pandemic, the group had been meeting weekly to play football, make contact with others and talk about their mental health.

 However, during lockdown the sessions continued online, with high profile sporting stars and other celebrities joining the sessions to talk about their mental health and provide inspiration for the group. 

Dan, who attends the Recovery Through Sport sessions, said: "Playing with a group of people who all have problems but come together to support each other through the sport programme has definitely had a major impact on my wellbeing and my health. It has helped me on the road to recovery to gain confidence and self-esteem." 

Jason Lee, Football Development Officer (Disability), at Gloucestershire Football Association, said: "The 2019-20 season will be remembered as a difficult year for football and the wider society. With all that's occurred it's great we still have the opportunity to be able to recognise and celebrate the hard work from all those involved in making grassroots football an environment which is fun, inclusive and enjoyable for all. 

"Gloucestershire FA is extremely proud to be able to support the AWP Recovery Through Sport Programme and is very much looking forward to continuing this when football returns. Great credit must be given to Jacob, Bob and the rest of their colleagues for the ingenuity they have shown in responding to the suspension of football by developing the Recovery Through Sport online sessions. This accolade is testament to the hard work of everyone involved with the AWP NHS Programme. We look forward to supporting them with their on-going work."

This year the Gloucestershire Football Association and McDonald's Grassroots Football Award winners were announced on social media due to the pandemic.

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