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Groundbreaking mental health project ‘Coping Through Football’ celebrates its 10th anniversary at Wembley Stadium

PUBLISHED: 15:00 20 April 2018

Oliver Mason, Howard Gould, Yvonne Doyle, Barbara Armstrong, Greg Clarke and Alex Welsh at a special 10th anniversary ceremony for Coping Through Football at Wembley (Leyton Orient Trust).

Oliver Mason, Howard Gould, Yvonne Doyle, Barbara Armstrong, Greg Clarke and Alex Welsh at a special 10th anniversary ceremony for Coping Through Football at Wembley (Leyton Orient Trust).

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Leyton Orient Trust were present at the home of football for a special ceremony which FA chairman Greg Clarke attended

Coping Through Football, an innovative initiative that helps people with mental health problems to get their lives back on track, was commended by The FA on reaching its ten year anniversary at a special ceremony at Wembley Stadium on Thursday (April 18).

Chairman of The, FA Greg Clarke, and the London Director of Public Health England Professor Yvonne Doyle were present to add their congratulations to the project which demonstrates how the benefits of football can extend well beyond the pitch to have an impact on public health and social inclusion.

Conceived by the charity London Playing Fields Foundation, and delivered in partnership with North East London Foundation Trust and Leyton Orient Trust in four London boroughs, the project provides a service with a difference using football to improve the lives of one of society’s most marginalised groups.

With suicide being the leading cause of death of men aged 15-49 and one in four people having at least one diagnosable mental health issue per year, there is a real need to provide more than medication as a treatment intervention.

The project, which delivers six sessions a week for fifty weeks a year, uses the power of football to improve participants’ physical health, increase self-esteem and confidence, reinvigorate social skills, reduce their reliance on tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs and ultimately help them to lead more independent lives.

Over the last ten years the results have been remarkable. In the last year alone 27 participants completed education courses, 16 entered full or part-time employment and three undertook volunteering roles.

One commented: “Before I came to the project I didn’t really have any friends, just my family.

“Now I’ve made friends with people here and we keep in touch outside of the group. I feel that I’m physically fitter, I’ve got confident and I can talk to anyone now. I was unemployed for 7 years and have now got myself a full time paid job.”

Alex Welsh, Chief Executive of London Playing Fields Foundation said: “The success of Coping Through Football highlights the importance of having a multi-agency approach in transforming and improving community mental health services.

“The thing that people experiencing mental health issues want more than anything, is to get their old lives back and Coping Through Football has shown how this can be achieved.”

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