Connecting the Community

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Project by Tarik Kaidi

Total raised £300

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To aid social cohesion within the mental health football community. We achieve this by creating support networks for people who are isolated

The objects of Minds United Football Club is to connect the community together as a means of actively improving the mental, physical, social and emotional wellbeing of adults in the borough who suffer from a wide range of mental health issues, as well as substance misuse. At our first session in July 2019, 7 people attended. Thanks to the popularity of the sessions, our dedication and interest from a number of funders, we have grown. We now have over 100 beneficiaries engaging with us, and benefiting from our services. In June 2020, we became a registered Community Interest Company (CIC).

Minds United FC is a peer led organisation. Peer support within a “Football Therapy” initiative plays a vital role.  Being involved with people who have had similar lived experiences, in a safe environment helps build confidence and tackles that feeling of loneliness. Our sessions take place in a safe environment where adults from different backgrounds can come together and forget about their problems, whilst playing football.

Many of our members who are socially isolated are suffering or dealing with lived experience of mental health issues pre and post the Grenfell tragedy. To name a few key groups, those living in financial deprivation and at a disadvantage, BAME, single parents or those with other health conditions which can be improved through our activities such as being overweight or having developed unhealthier lifestyles will also benefit .The family and friends of our attendees will experience a positive change in the beneficiaries health and wellbeing which will positively affect the wider community.

From data gathered from feedback forms and consultations, 100% of our service users have reported the need for our services and activities in the borough. According to the Department of Health & Social Care, mental illness represents up to 23% of the total burden of ill health in the UK – the largest single cause of disability – with estimates suggesting that the cost of mental health problems in England is close to £105 billion per year, including costs of lost productivity and wider impacts on wellbeing and treatment costs.   

These are expected to double by 2030. A survey published by the Mental Health Foundation, found that 59% of British adults felt their life was more stressful than it was five years ago. 47% of all survey respondents said they felt stressed every day and a further 24% said they felt stressed every few days.  

The Health and Social Care Information Centre have published data which shows hospital admissions for stress have risen by 7% in just 12 months, and the Health and Safety Executive recently published figures which indicate a rise in sick days due to work-related stress.  

The Mental Health Foundation survey found that 18% of people found drinking alcohol helpful for stress and 10% found smoking helpful, while only 6% would consider visiting a GP. This is worrying because in the long run alcohol and smoking can make mental and physical health problems worse. In recent years prescription rates for antidepressant medication have increased steeply. However, antidepressants are not equally effective for all people and many people are reluctant to take antidepressants for long periods, often due to their side effects, which can lead to non-compliance with medication or not seeking treatment. 

For some people, physical activity can be as powerful as medicine or therapy. According to the Mental Health Foundation, for people with depression, “Comparative studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as medication or psychotherapy.” Exercise releases natural chemicals like adrenaline and serotonin. It also helps to release muscle tension, raises the body temperature, and causes tiredness.  

The two quotations below are from team members and depict the positive affect the football project has had on participants.  

“The bonds we’ve built over such a short period of time are phenomenal; we are more than just a football team, we’ve become good friends, more like family.” 

“We inspire and encourage each other to do well in our lives and in the community, while also signposting peers to other groups and services in the community.”  

“Minds United has given us a safe non-judgemental space to come and connect with others in the community who have similar experiences as ourselves.”

“Football saved my life, the club gave me a reason to keep living.”

According to the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) report on mental wellbeing in RBKC, the estimated prevalence of mental illness in working age adults is estimated at 20,529 residents of RKBC. There are some challenges that RBKC faces which can influence loneliness and social isolation. There is a particularly high ‘churn’ rate, with large numbers of people moving in and out of the Boroughs making it more difficult to establish social connections.  

Although feeling loneliness does not only affect those living alone, there is a correlation and 47% of Kensington and Chelsea households are one-person households.  

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