In a week when mental health was high on the national agenda, Everton in the Community and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust have been recognised for their pioneering work at the National Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards.
The collaborative partnership saw the ‘Imagine Your Goals’ (IYG) community mental health football programme win an award for ‘Integration of Physical and Mental Health’ at the annual best practice ceremony in Woking, presented by Luciana Berger, MP for Liverpool Wavertree.
Attending the Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards was Everton’s Health and Wellbeing Manager Jonathan Garside. He said: “It was an achievement for Imagine Your Goals even to be shortlisted, so to actually win the overall award was amazing! As with any project that stands the test of time, its strength is in the partnerships it develops and none more so than with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. A team effort is an accurate description and the key to IYG’s past, present and continuing success.”
Everton in the Community began working with Mersey Care in 2007 to develop a series of programmes to specifically tackle mental health issues among different groups within the local community.
In 2008 they introduced Imagine Your Goals, a ground-breaking fitness programme that offers local people living with mental health issues an opportunity to talk about their problems, seek help and support in a familiar environment. Imagine Your Goals uses football as a therapeutic tool to inspire individuals to take up new challenges whilst improving their overall mental, physical and social health to aid recovery.
The programme provides seven specialised football sessions every week across Merseyside engaging up to 200 participants referred by Mersey Care. It also led to Merseyside’s first ever mental health football league.
Mersey Care’s Professional Project Manager Matty Byrne commented: “The big success of Imagine Your Goals is that it’s not just about football and sport. Our service users speak of the camaraderie, peer support and social interaction they enjoy which motivates them to taking part. Many participants have not only got fitter but have also grown in confidence and general health and wellbeing.”
It is a formula that impressed the Positive Practice in Mental Health Collaborative, which is a user-led, multi-agency approach by 75 organisations, including: NHS Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups, police services, third sector providers, front line charities and service user groups. The Positive Practice in Mental Health awards is seen as the industry benchmark for recognising the very best in innovation and practice within the mental health sector. This year saw a record number of submissions for the various categories.
Since starting Imagine Your Goals, Everton in the Community’s Health and Wellbeing team has developed five additional mental health programmes in partnership with Mersey Care, supporting individuals experiencing dementia, unemployment and isolation.