Mansfield Town Football Club is aiming to tackle mental health issues across the town by using its community programmes to “break the stigma”.
This comes on World Mental Health Day - a day which recognises the difficulty of people living with mental health issues around the globe.
The football club runs a number of initiatives to boost morale in the community, hoping to tackle loneliness, isolation and depression.
The work includes a project working with schools, talking to children and encouraging early friendship and communication.
Part of this project is Holly Primary School in Forest Town, and head teacher Duncan White believes this is fundamental in tackling mental health at a young age.
He said: “Football in the Community provides the kids with a high quality activity which engages them in their learning, it gives them a sense of belonging and enables them to join in an activity together. “The activities give the children the confidence and skills to speak out and seek assistance if required, the staff are sensitive to our needs and the children’s needs and the different approach gives the kids confidence to engage in conversation 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, aiming to tackle isolation and loneliness, which has seen the clubs oldest living player Walter Edwards become a regular attendee. Mr Edwards has dementia and now lives in a care home, however every Friday his granddaughter Gemma Starbuck brings him back to the community rooms at the One Call Stadium. She believes these outings have helped put a glint back into the eye of the former winger. She said: “It’s amazing, I’ve taken Walt along with his old photos and programs and it has stimulated something as, despite the changes to the stadium over the years since his playing days, he is aware that he has been to the Stags. “It’s got the whole family talking again and it’s made us realise that there is that little spark there for him. “He’s gone quite mute over the last year as his dementia has progressed, so for us to see him become more animated it has really touched us.” The Football in the Community project also focuses on a range of projects including disability sport, girls football and walking football - encouraging people to get out of the house and socialise.