A new football scheme aimed at supporting people with experience of mental health issues is to kick off in Peterborough.

The project is a collaboration between Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, Peterborough United FC, Peterborough and Fenland Mind, and Northamptonshire Football Association.

It is hoped the sessions will boost participants’ mental well-being, and encourage them to play football more regularly.

Nick Sheppard, Community Manager at Peterborough United, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with CPFT, Peterborough and Fenland Mind and the Northamptonshire FA on this project.  We hope the physical and social aspects of the project will really help promote positive mental wellbeing among all of the players who attend the sessions.”

Matt Rowe, Support Time Recovery Worker with CPFT, said: “This is a really exciting project as the links between exercise and improving people’s mental health are very well documented.
“I’m delighted that Peterborough United, Peterborough and Fenland Mind and Northamptonshire Football Association have joined CPFT to launch this scheme.

“People who have lived-experience of mental health issues can often find themselves feeling isolated, but we hope this project will give them a chance to get together with others, boost their confidence, and just get them enjoying their football and having fun.”

The 10-week project, which is being co-ordinated by CPFT’s Recovery College East and is open to people of all abilities, begins on Wednesday, 24 September at Netherton United FC, Mayors Walk, Peterborough, between 2pm and 3pm. The first two weeks will be free of charge, and will then cost £2 per player. Money raised will go towards funding further coaching sessions. Coaches from Posh will lead the sessions and participants who complete all 10 weeks will receive a free ticket to a Peterborough United home game.

Paul Reynolds, Disability Football Development Officer for Northamptonshire FA, said: “We are delighted to be part of this project. “It is great that we can use football to engage with people who have mental health challenges, and their involvement will hopefully help with their all round health and wellbeing.

“Overall, this will form part of a wider programme involving 25 County FAs which aims to encourage male and female footballers with disabilities or mental health challenges to get involved in recreational football which may lead to more competitive football.”

Jo McHattie, Development Manager for Peterborough and Fenland Mind, said: "Taking part in sport has been shown to have a positive impact on an individual's mental health. Peterborough and Fenland Mind are delighted, along with our partners, to be able to offer this football group to anyone who may benefit from joining in with these sessions.”

Places are available via CPFT’s Recovery College East which helps people with mental health conditions take a wide range of different course. Family members, friends and carers of people with mental health conditions, together with students studying mental health qualifications, can also take courses. For further information about the football, or any other courses run by Recovery College East, email recoverycollegeeast@cpft.nhs.uk or call 01223 884431.