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EFL Day of Action: Showing stigma the red card

19 March 2019

Through their 'Active Minds' sessions, Football in the Community actively help those suffering with mental health issues, as they look to show the stigma surrounding mental health the red card.

Mansfield Town Football in the Community are delighted to be one of 72 Football League clubs taking part in this year’s EFL Day of Action, showcasing the work Football in the Community undertake on a daily basis.

Their ‘Active Minds’ sessions are open for anyone living with Dementia, anyone caring for a Dementia patient or any male who may be living with any form of mental health, including isolation, low self-confidence and PTSD.

Uniting people through the power of sport, Active Minds provides a safe haven for people in an inclusive environment, with different activities taking place each week such as football-themed quizzes, singing sessions and chair based fitness.

“What’s so brilliant about the sessions are the friendships and conversations they create,” says Carol Wright, wife of attendee Peter Wright, who lives with Dementia.

“Peter can sit at home and not speak for hours, that’s just part of Dementia. But on a Friday [after the Active Minds sessions] he comes in with a different expressions, he’s like a different person.

“The main thing it does for me is makes me feel better because I can see that he is happy. It’s different to the rest of the week, it’s like he becomes a totally different person.”

Kurt Eggington is a new attendee to the group and suffers with mental health issues. He said: “I felt that I needed to come along and get involved with people in a similar situation to me.

“The group of people I’m currently interacting with may be a little older but they’re very pleasant and it’s great to have that camaraderie.

“The common denominator is an association to following the football club. It’s a focal point whereby if people are having a conversation, there is always something that you can fall back on – the stories and memories which other people have.

“Without taking that first step, you’re never going to know if it’s going to be of assistance to you, but like I have, you may just find it gives you something to really look forward to – week in, week out.”

Mark Hemingray, head of Community, said: “Our Active Minds group really pushes the boundaries when it comes to inclusion – for a lot of these gentlemen, One Call Stadium has been a regular place to visit for decades. They felt at home here watching the Stags and now feel at home once again.

“We try and vary the activities we do each week to ensure that everyone leaves with a smile on their faces – living a life with Dementia or a mental health problem is tough for both the individual and their loved ones, so we strive to make these sessions a place where all of those troubles, worries and stresses are forgotten about.

“The stigmas around mental Health and dementia are common. We aim to show those stigmas a red card, create an enjoyable and warm environment for people to come and basically say it’s okay to not be okay.

“We are here for each other, united by football and in particular Mansfield Town FC.”

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