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On the ball for mental health

Posted onPosted on 10th Oct

Mansfield Town Football In The Community marked World Mental Health Day by highlighting its work to tackle mental health issues through community programmes for all ages.

It is working with many primary schools through the Premier League Primary Stars initiative, which Duncan White, the head of Forest Town’s Holly Primary School, said helped children to form friendships.

“Football In The Community provides children with a high-quality activity, which engages them in their learning.

“It gives them the confidence and skills to speak out and seek assistance if required.

“The staff are sensitive to our needs and the children’s needs. The different approach gives children confidence to engage in conversations, which can sometimes be the toughest step for a child who is suffering.”

Mansfield Town Football In The Community has also launched a dementia group, aimed at tackling isolation and loneliness.

It meets every Friday and among those attending is the club’s oldest living player, Walter Edwards.

Walter, who has dementia and lives in a care home, is taken to the group every Friday by his granddaughter, Gemma Starbuck.

She said the group, which meets in the community rooms at the One Call Stadium, had helped put a glint back into the eye of the former Stags’ winger.

“It’s amazing. I’ve taken Walt along with his old photos and programmes and it has just stimulated something,” Gemma said.

“Despite the changes to the stadium over the years since his playing days, he’s aware that he has been to the Stags.

“It has got the whole family talking again and it has made us realise there is that little spark there for him. He has gone quite mute over the last year as his dementia has progressed, so for us, to see him become more animated has really touched us.

“Having the dementia group and other schemes gives you an open mind.

“Attending can really show that you are not alone. Being able to get out and speak to someone in such a warm environment is invaluable, especially for people who think that no one understands what they are going through.”

The Football In The Community project also focuses on a range of projects, including working with primary schools, disability sport, girls’ football and walking football, with a regular walking football programme providing a regular platform for participants, many of whom are retired, to get out and socialise.

Rich Bradley, one of those participants, said “When you’re at work you don’t get time to do a lot of stuff socially, but when you retire it’s the complete opposite.

“Walking football is a great way to get out and I really enjoy it.

“It gives us something to focus on and it’s certainly helped me to make a lot of new friends and achieve things that I never thought possible, such as playing with one of my heroes in Kevin Bird.

“The camaraderie is really enjoyable, we’re all friends, we all take the micky out of each other and have a laugh – I think you miss that sometimes when you step away from that sort of environment.”

For further information go to or call 01623 656920.