Over the past two years, Blackburn Rovers Community Trust has held several events as part of the ‘Time To Change’ project which offers young people aged 16-19 years, many from socially excluded groups, the opportunity to take part in enjoyable group activity to promote good emotional health and wellbeing. The Trust has delivered an engaging series of interventions including weekly sporting sessions, special events and mini-tournaments, affording the chance to develop new friendship circles and social skills.
During the project lifetime (June 2010 – June 2012) the Blackburn Rovers ‘Time To Change’ project engaged directly with over 1,300 people plus a further 47,000 who were reached through campaigning activities on matchdays, including active player support, designed to help towards removing the stigma associated with poor mental health.
Project delivery included 10 week football coaching sessions in Audley, Shadsworth, Bastwell, Darwen and St Bede’s which engaged with almost 200 participants. These sessions have contributed towards increasing levels of self esteem and confidence as well as affording young people from different areas of Blackburn with Darwen the opportunity to join together in enjoyable sporting activity.
Working with local partners, the project has also seen the Trust delivering workshops in local schools and community venues to raise awareness of mental health and to promote mental health wellbeing. Over 300 people have attended these workshops.
Furthermore the Trust hosted four ‘Time To Change’ football tournaments, attracting a total of 28 teams, at which partner organisations were present to offer participants and spectators information and advice designed to promote mental health wellbeing. Indeed, so popular were the tournaments that they attracted teams from Manchester, Bolton and as far away as Stoke. The final ‘Time To Change’ tournament was held at the end of May on the hallowed turf of Ewood Park – a prestigious event as befitting this successful project.
In addition to the above the Blackburn Rovers ‘Time to Change’ project provided a number of training opportunities for volunteers including the Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid training with the aim of improving the knowledge, understanding and skills of how to support people who are experiencing mental health or emotional problems as may be encountered in daily life. The opportunity to gain the FA Level 1 Coaching Qualification was also made available.
Partners involved in the project included Blackburn with Darwen BC; Blackburn with Darwen NHS Care Trust Plus; Lancashire MIND, Blackburn College; St Bede’s RC High School; NHS Lancashire Care Foundation; Darwen Aldridge Community Academy; Lammack Juniors FC; Mindcare; Connexions, Blackburn with Darwen CVS, Reach Out (Darwen), Myerscough College.