SAFC supporters join forces for mental health awareness campaign at Foundation of Light

Sunderland supporters have teamed up with their club to raise awareness of mental health.

Monday, 16th September 2019, 12:45 pm
Updated Monday, 16th September 2019, 12:45 pm
The second Life Worth Living Course was attended by Foundation of Light staff, BLC representatives, police and branch members.

Members of Sunderland AFC’s Branch Liaison Council (BLC) have met with representatives of the club to discuss the issues.

A course called A Life Worth Living was held at the Foundation of Light, SAFC’s official charity. It was delivered by Washington Mind, which trains people to offer support to those experiencing mental health problems.

The course has now been run twice. The second was attended by Foundation of Light staff, BLC representatives, police and branch members.

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The first Life Worth Living course with, from left, Kieron Brady, Stewart Donald, Kevin Ball and Nick Barnes of BBC Radio Newcastle.

The BLC has over 50 affiliated branches across the world and takes thousands of fans to Sunderland matches home and away. Now it is also reaching out to members who may be have mental health issues.

The campaign began in March when the South Shields and Washington supporters’ branch held a talk-in with club chairman Stewart Donald, plus former players Kevin Ball and Kieron Brady, who opened up about his own issues.

This raised £2,500 for a local men’s mental health charity.

The ultimate aim of each course is to give volunteers the confidence, skills and knowledge needed to support a vulnerable person.

It tries to break down the stigma and the barriers to talking openly about mental health; something men in particular find difficult.

The BLC is supported in this by the Foundation’s Heads First campaign, funded by their Give a Quid campaign. It also has full backing of Stewart Donald, who has supported it from the beginning.

BLC secretary Cath Reid said: “We continue to fundraise for groundbreaking supporter-led mental health projects. Our aim to to have supporters supporting each other. Together we can make a difference.”

Sophie Ashcroft, head of marketing at the Foundation of Light, said: ”We’re delighted to be working alongside the BLC on such an important topic and it’s great to see our fans coming together to support each other.

“The Life Worth Living session was thought provoking and inspiring in equal measure. It has given everyone who took part a better understanding of the complex world of mental health and how we can all help by simply listening and being there for each other.”