Social inclusion football

action-social-includion

Community CVS is challenging exclusion and connecting and developing people so that they can become assets in their communities through social inclusion football.

Football is an important part of the social makeup of communities across the North West and as a result, it is seen as adding social value. People who, for a variety of reasons, do not fit easily into these “communities” thus feel that they are excluded from playing. The Creative Support Football League aims to tackle this “exclusion” by providing a safe and controlled way for people to participate.

Men Dive In FC (Mental Health and Well-being, Diversity and Inclusivity)

Men Dive In FC (Mental Health and Well-being, Diversity and Inclusivity) are a football team for young men and women (now officially a mixed team) with Mental Health conditions that could be described as being socially excluded.

As we already supporting the Recovery League (for people in substance misuse recovery), the ‘Achieving Self Care Project’ contacted us asking if we could find some of their client’s community football teams to join. Unfortunately, mainstream football teams don’t work like that; managers first have to see potential players before asking them to join. So as a stepping stone, we decided to create our own team – with no pressure about ‘fitting in’; all that would be needed was the desire to play.

The team help introduce players to others who also have Mental Health conditions, thus showing them that they aren’t alone and that they don’t have to suffer in silence and can ask for help any time they wish. It is also hoped that, if they are good enough, other people from mainstream teams will notice them and be asked to join other teams.

We expected Men Dive In FC eventually to feel confident enough in themselves to take charge of their lives – maybe even start helping others through volunteering. Quite a few of the team now have made positive changes to themselves and others.

Results from the team have already been positive. On the footballing side they are on course to win the second division title in only their first season. Off the pitch, the results have been equally encouraging.

Almost finally, Men Dive In FC are perceived as a “service” that can have other organisations clients referred to. This might have been the case at first but the team now have well over 20 players and the aim is now to become a self-determining group. It is hoped that they will have two teams competing in the New Year, one of which will be for players with a perceived need, the other will be run as a meritocracy.

Finally finally, the Creative Support Football League will become a self-contained, self-determining league, affiliated with Lancashire FA  and Men Dive In FC aim to be at the heart of it not only through our normal involvement but also through Directorship of East Lancashire Football Development Association, a Social Enterprise committed not only to delivering high quality playing surfaces but also committed in developing social inclusion football

Get in touch

Contact geoff.wilkinson@communitycvs.org.uk if you would like more information or are interested in getting involved.

Individual stories

RH first came into contact with us through Recovery.  As an FA qualified coach, he became the Assistant Coach for Men Dive In before he then secured full time employment. That has not ended his involvement with Men Dive In FC or with football. When shifts allow, he still comes to help out on match days. He has also become a coach for Mill Hill Diversity FC and has already made a positive impact on that group. He will shortly be taking another course to further his footballing education so he can coach Age UK BwD clients in walking football. Finally, he now has plans to become a support worker, drawing on his experiences to help others.

AH, when he initially joined the team he suffered from anger management issues and would often find himself in trouble. Since being made captain of the team, he has become a role model through his better behaviour. He instructs and guides players both on and off the pitch. He was keen to talk about his experiences so agreed, to make a film for the Achieving Self Care Project that would better explain to outside organisations how his role within the team has made a positive impact on his life. He too now has a job.

RM and JW are two players that we first came across as volunteers for Social Action Projects in and around the Borough. They used to play for Mill Hill Diversity FC but, through no fault of their own, were asked to leave. As we had only good experiences with them, we asked them to be part of Men Dive In FC and they will shortly be joining Blackburn Community Sport Club where their experience will be invaluable.

SG is a man in his 50s who it was felt would benefit from the social aspect of the team. SG is a man who always has a smile on his face – he now volunteers regularly for Care Network and Your Support Your Choice

JS is one of the best grassroots 5 aside players we have seen. He is also one of the most vulnerable. He has played for a number of years but has not been able to keep in a team due to his condition. Since joining us his ability to interact with other team members has improved immensely. Not only that, he was confident enough to talk openly about his own personal journey, the lows and highs, in the aforementioned film for ASC. The greatest achievement though was his involvement with Mums The Word in helping them move from their site in Shadsworth to their premises in Darwen. It was completely outside his safe football bubble but he more than coped with the situation.

PP is a player that came to us through the Recovery side. PP was first with us when he had just started his treatment. Volunteering normally forms part of that treatment but it is normally within the recovery sector. PP offered his support to GQ, one time Men Dive In member, sadly lost to us through Criminal Justice, when he was going through a particularly turbulent time in his life. PP has now become a mentor within Thomas and one of his appointed roles will be to support a player in recovery who will be joining us from October 15 onwards.