An innovative group which helps men to tackle mental health issues by giving them "All to Play For" has been shortlisted for a top national award.
The initiative, which is spearheaded by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) in partnership with Active Norfolk and the Premier Foundation, has been shortlisted in the "innovation in mental health" category of the Health Business Awards.
The awards celebrate excellence and improvement projects across the NHS, with the winners announced at a ceremony in London in early December. The latest shortlisting comes after All to Play For was named as 'community project of the year' in the Norfolk FA Grassroots Football Awards during the summer.
The news comes as project leads appeal for new players to join in their newest session, which takes place every Thursday from 10am to 11am at the Goals Centre on Hall Road in Norwich. Designed to build confidence and self-esteem, it is open to any men – both in and out of services – who feel they need extra support with their wellbeing, and gives them the chance to take part in a game led by a qualified coach while socialising with others.
After the kickabout, they can attend informal drop-in sessions where they can get information and advice from different support services on subjects such as finance, gambling and housing.
The project is part-funded by NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group's "Healthy Norwich" small grants programme, to promote better mental health and wellbeing and physical health. £20,000 was provided to scale up the project across the Norwich area after a successful pilot in 2017.
Andy Fisk, Community Mental Health Nurse with NSFT who helps run the sessions, said: "We're delighted to have been shortlisted for this prestigious national award, which is a reflection on just how successful the project has been so far.
"We've been blown away by the popularity of the sessions which have taken place so far. Feedback shows they are helping to improve wellbeing, boost low mood and reduce anxiety, while they also offer a valuable opportunity to meet other people and help tackle social isolation.
"The morning session in Norwich will give us the chance to offer vital support to even more men, and we would encourage anyone who feels they need extra help with their wellbeing to come along and give it a try."
Sam Watts, Project Officer at Active Norfolk, said: "I'm delighted to see the impact the project has had locally is being recognised nationally by being shortlisted for this award. The project continues to support more men in Norfolk by tackling social isolation, increasing accessibility in to support services and uniting like-minded men. The Norwich morning session will only increase the opportunity for more men to get involved."
Four All to Play For sessions are currently available for men who are experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. They take place at:
• Great Yarmouth Town FC, Wellesley Stadium, Sandown Road, Great Yarmouth – every Wednesday from 10am to 11am • FDC in Bowthorpe, Bowthorpe Park, Norwich – every Wednesday from 1.30pm to 2.30pm • Heartsease, Open Academy, Salhouse Road, Norwich – every Thursday 8pm to 9pm • Goals Centre, Hall Road, Norwich – every Thursday from 10am to 11am The latest group comes following the success of similar initiatives in Norwich and Great Yarmouth.
For more information or to join a session, contact Sam Watts from Active Norfolk on 01603 731 564 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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