New community football sessions aim to tackle anxiety and isolation

May 30 2018

A new way to play football is being offered by a special team harnessing the sport’s power to improve physical and mental wellbeing.

While most clubs focus on winning their league or a cup, the Recovery Through Sport Football Group was set up with a different goal in mind.

It brings together the NHS, Bristol Rovers and an organisation called the Wellbeing College to provide a friendly and social way to get some exercise for people of all abilities and ages.

It is the idea of mental health support worker Jacob Kelly and nurse Bob Broomhead, who have seen the benefits friendly groups, focusing on activities including sport and gardening, can bring to service users of the Avon and Wiltshire Partnership NHS Trust.

Jacob said: “Some people have come and been really quite nervous at the beginning, some of them struggling with anxiety, but once you’re playing sport it doesn’t matter.

“Their physical health has massively improved and also their wellbeing.”

Jacob said he and Bob now want to widen the number of people who can benefit and are inviting people to come along and play at the new football group’s sessions at Shaftesbury Park, Frenchay, which start in June.

He said: “It’s open to any adults whether they want to go and get some exercise, build social networks, get used to being around people or improve their wellbeing.

“Everyone and anyone is invited we want to make the experience as near to playing football with your friends as you can get.

“It’s about meeting people and playing in a friendly, relaxed environment. You can be any age over 18, male or female. Some people will never have played football before.”

Bristol Rovers Community Trust is involved with the group, with players set to come along to some sessions and group members being given the opportunity to watch games at the Memorial Stadium.

The first session is at 3pm on Thursday, June 7. Sessions are free but people who would like to go are being asked to register in advance.

For more information and to book a free ticket, visit the RealityCheckNHS Facebook page, the South Gloucestershire Wellbeing College website or call Jacob on 07785 342192.