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New group shows there's "All to Play For"

​Men from across Norfolk will be given “All to Play For” while also looking after their mental health by joining a new football group designed to help improve their physical and emotional wellbeing.

The free sessions are being run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) in partnership with Active Norfolk, and are open to all adult men – both in and out of services – who feel they need extra support with their wellbeing.

They will be able to take part in an hour-long game led by a qualified coach before attending an informal drop-in session where they can pick up information and advice from a variety of different support services on subjects such as finance and housing.

The pilot sessions have been arranged as part of NSFT’s Men’s Wellbeing Project, which aims to help men take better care of their mental health and improve their access to services. It will see men play alongside mental health staff, with the aim of breaking down barriers between service users and professionals so they can work together more closely.

The sessions will take place at the Football Development Centre in Bowthorpe, Norwich, for 10 to 12 weeks, beginning on Wednesday 27 September at 1pm.

Andy Fisk, a Community Mental Health Nurse with NSFT, has organised the project alongside Sam Watts, from Active Norfolk.

He said: “We are really excited about this new group, which will give any man aged 18 or over the chance to get some extra support with their wellbeing. We’ll be asking those taking part about their individual needs so that we can invite the right services along to offer help in an informal and welcoming environment.

“There is strong evidence to show that physical exercise has a positive impact on mental health. As such, we hope as many men, carers and professionals as possible will come along to these exciting new sessions, get active and help us break down the stigma associated with mental ill health.”

Sam Watts, Fun and Fit Project Officer from Active Norfolk, said: “This is a great chance for those struggling with mental health issues to join other like-minded people and enjoy a game in a fun and friendly environment.

“As well as honing their skills by taking part in some drills led by a professional coach, they will also get the chance to receive support for their mental health at the social session after the game.”

If the pilot proves a success, NSFT hopes to roll out further sessions across the county.

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