All To Play For

A weekly socially inclusive drop-in football programme in Bowthorpe for men struggling with poor mental health has made a significant and positive impact on the lives of participants. At each session, mental health professionals and local support services are present to offer assistance and guidance for those who want to access it.

Two years since those first Bowthorpe sessions, and Active Norfolk has rolled out two additional All to Play For sessions in Norwich and Great Yarmouth, to give more men the chance to benefit from judgement-free fun activity sessions while providing access to vital mental health support services at the same.

When Active Norfolk was approached by the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) about the need to bridge the gap between men suffering with mental health problems and the services that are available to them, the two organisations partnered together to devise a programme that would offer free football drop-in sessions for men with poor mental health while giving attendees access to vital support services they may not have been aware of.

For those who have been able to attend All To Play For so far, the impact it has made on their lives has been significant, with participants almost universally reporting an upturn in personal confidence which has, in many cases, led to other positive lifestyle changes.

All To Play For sessions:

Great Yarmouth - Every Wednesday 10am - 11am, at Great Yarmouth Town FC, Wellesley Stadium, Sandown Road, Gt Yarmouth, NR30 1EY

Bowthorpe - Every Wednesday 1.30pm - 2.30pm, at the FDC in Bowthorpe, Bowthorpe Park, Norwich, NR5 9ED

Heartsease - Every Thursday - 8pm - 9pm at Open Academy, Salhouse Road, Norwich NR7 9DL

Goals Norwich - Every Thursday - 1.30pm - 2.30pm at GOALS Norwich, Hewitt School, Hall rd, NR1 2GB.

Read the latest project report

The programme has benefited from the involvement of a number of local organisations including the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), The Football Development Centre, provided by the Norfolk FA and the Premier Foundation.

While the success of the programme has been a lifeline for many men with mental health problems in Norfolk, there is still work to do. Active Norfolk is committed to rolling out the programme across the County to give more men with mental health problems access to fun and inclusive activity sessions and important support services.

What participants say:

"Overall, I’ve enjoyed the “All to Play For” sessions. I’ve found it lifts my mood and allows me to be social once a week. I found the course has lifted my confidence but there’s still a way to go."

Koti, 23

"Doing this has encouraged me to go to the gym twice a week and football two more times. It all started here. I’ve loved making new friends and socialising. I’m currently in hospital on a section so I don’t really get the chance to do so a lot. My mental state is more positive due to this group, it gives me something to look forward to and gives me a sense of purpose."

Mauricio, 29

"I am a clinical support worker working in the Community Mental Health Early Intervention Team. It has helped service users build confidence and I feel the session helps to reduce barriers and stigma related to mental health. The session provides so much enjoyment. It doesn’t matter what are our backgrounds, job roles, abilities, it is just a group of men all doing something they love and all are equal."

Daniel, 39

For more information on this project contact Sam Watts using the information below

Sam Watts

Sam Watts

Physical Activity Project Officer

I joined Active Norfolk in April 2013 after graduating from Brunel University in Sports Science. I joined the health team and am responsible for tackling physical inactivity in adults. I have since managed the Fun & Fit project which has been successful in engaging and supporting the physically inactive to become healthier.

My current work at Active Norfolk also sees me lead on the mental health agenda which requires me to work with local partners to improve mental health and suicide reduction through projects such as All To Play For. I also oversee the work across two long term health conditions in MSK and CVD by providing opportunities for people affected to become or remain physically active.

In addition to the inactivity work, I provide locality support in Breckland working with district officers and key stakeholders to improve and increase sport and physical activity opportunities across the area.

Outside of work I play for Norwich United FC and any spare time I have left you can find me in the studio working on my ballet routines!

01603 731 564