Social inclusion through football

9 April 2017

UCLan teams up with Creative Support’s Blackburn Service to promote positive wellbeing through sport

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has teamed up with a national social care provider to host a football tournament designed to promote positive mental health and wellbeing.

Organised specifically for people with mental health and other care needs, the Social Inclusion 5-aside Football Tournament, hosted by UCLan Sports Arena in partnership with Creative Support’s Blackburn Social Inclusion Service, attracted teams from all over Lancashire and further afield including teams from Wrexham, Derby and Everton.

The event was designed to promote social inclusion amongst vulnerable people and encourage all participants to meet new people, engage in physical exercise, try something new and build confidence.

"We are delighted to team up with UCLan and spread the message that football is a sport for all and is a great form of therapy for a lot of people."

Paul Hardman, support co-ordinator for Creative Support’s Social Inclusion and Floating Support Services in Blackburn, commented: “We are delighted to team up with UCLan and spread the message that football is a sport for all and is a great form of therapy for a lot of people.

“The Social Inclusion Tournament is a follow on from our Lottery funded Social Inclusion League held at Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, which is open to anyone who may be feeling isolated and is unable to join in mainstream football for a variety of reasons.  This may be due to mental health issues, homelessness, substance misuse, a disability or something else; our main aim is to set a level playing field where everyone is equal and there is no discrimination.”

In addition to the successful UCLan Sports Arena event, the University is also working with Creative Support in Blackburn to develop women’s football in the town.  Cian McEvoy, UCLan’s Football Development Officer, runs a weekly session at Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre (BRIC) for local women with mental health issues.

He said: “The idea of the ladies only sessions are to try and build confidence amongst the group, eliminate discrimination and promote physical activity.  Our long term goal is to build up a recreational team that can then develop into a competitive side and take part in tournaments while still benefitting from the BRIC and the other services it can offer.  It’s great that UCLan can work with local partners to help provide this vital community service.”

View images from the event on the UCLan Flickr gallery.

The Social Inclusion Tournament
The Social Inclusion Tournament

Teams involved in the Social Inclusion tournament:

Wrexham DFC (2 teams) - Wrexham DSA FC is an all abilities football team covering all Disabilities, Mental health, Social Inclusion and anything that disables you from life.
Blackburn Brasilia (2 teams) – These two teams represent Creative Support’s Blackburn service. Creative Support is a not for profit provider of personalised services - supporting people to enjoy their lives and reach their full potential.
Men Dive In FC – Representing Blackburn with Darwen Community CVS. Connecting People & Growing Communities. Supporting vulnerable people & community groups in Blackburn with Darwen and beyond, to drive social action.
Discover Dynamos (2 teams) – Preston based team representing Phoenix Futures, a charity and housing association providing services for people affected by substance misuse
Kemple View – This Langho based service represents Partnerships in Care, one of the largest and most experienced providers of specialist care across the UK.
Everton IYG - Imagine Your Goals is a community based football programme run by Everton in the Community and Mersey Care NHS Trust
Derby County CT - Derby County Community Trust - Using the power of Derby County Football Club to improve the lives of the people of Derbyshire through participation in sport
AFG Wigan - Alternative Futures Group is a charity providing person-centred support to adults with learning disabilities & mental health needs.
Madrid 5 – Representing the Blackburn with Darwen Leaving Care Team
Soccerholics R Us -  Soccerholics 'R' us are a small but talented group of UEFA coaches looking to provide Organised, Fun, Football sessions in and around Shropshire & Powys.
Go 2 FC – Blackburn based Young people’s drug and alcohol service.