Promoting positive mental health through football

22 June 2017

UCLan partners with Kemple View Hospital to host football festival

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has teamed up with local mental health hospital Kemple View to promote positive recovery through the power of football.

The UCLan and Kemple View 5-a-side Football Festival, hosted by UCLan Sports Arena, included 12 teams made up of patients from the Langho Hospital and from the region’s wider recovery community of Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley Fleetwood, Preston and Wigan.

The event not only helped the hospital raise funds for its forthcoming FAVOR UK Recover Walk in September, which raises awareness of substance use disorders and recovery from addiction, it also promoted positive messages about the ways people deal with mental health issues.

Adrian Oldale and Daniel Cockle, Recovery and Substance Misuse Workers from Kemple View, and UCLan’s Football Development Officer Cian McEvoy ran the event.

"Working with UCLan has supported patients and staff to make good connections with others in recovery, making new friends and at the same time tackling stigma and preconceptions about mental illness..."

Adrian said: “Supporting people to increase their motivation and sustain this is challenging and this is no different within mental health settings. The challenges are made more complex due to a number of factors, including the nature of the illness, low self-esteem and confidence.

“Here at Kemple View we have found engaging in sport and community sport initiatives has had a positive impact on our patients, the benefits are reflected in their increased sense of wellbeing, which includes the patients being an active part of their community. Working with UCLan has supported patients and staff to make good connections with others in recovery, making new friends and at the same time tackling stigma and preconceptions about mental illness and substance misuse. These connections will also support our patients to continue their recovery in the community, to have a good life.

“The Recovery Team at Kemple View is made up of patients and staff and we have all enjoyed working with UCLan to put together this year’s Football Festival. The festival will bring together the recovery communities and other partner agencies from across Lancashire to raise money for the National recovery walk in Blackpool, organised by FAVOR UK. The walk takes place on the 9 September and everyone is welcome.”

Kemple View has been bringing patients to UCLan Sports Arena to play 7-a-side football for the last 12 months.  When UCLan appointed Football Development Officer Cian McEvoy last September, he started to develop partnerships with organisations working in mental health to look into how football can be used to aid recovery.

He said: “Our event comes as we see many news stories about footballers who are starting to come out and talk about their own mental health experiences.  We’re exploring how football can be used as a form of therapy for both mental and physical health needs.  Football can break down isolation barriers and make the players feel part of something, so it’s a confidence booster as well as being a tool to reduce stress and provide relaxation.  A key part of my role at UCLan is working with local partners, such as Kemple View, to break down the stigma that is associated with mental illnesses and give out a positive message of inclusivity and understanding.”

In his role Cian also works with Creative Support in Blackburn to run a weekly session at Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre (BRIC) for local women with mental health issues.

For more information about the FAVOR UK walk visit

View images from the event on the UCLan Flickr gallery.