Former boxing world heavyweight champion, Frank Bruno, recently spoke of the importance of sport and the role it has with improving mental health. This followed Bruno's backing of Everton in the Community's People's Place project at a recent 'Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference' hosted by Edge Hill University.
Everton in the Community has been partnered with the Edge Hill University - the award-winning university - since 2012 and Director of Health and Sport, Michael Salla, was in attendance at the conference to speak about the Club’s official charity’s work in the field of mental health and to witness a Q&A between British boxing great Bruno and Professor Andy Smith which touched on Bruno's battles with mental health and subsequent aftercare, the effects of his involvement in the phone hacking scandal, as well as his charitable foundation.
Bruno’s experience of mental illness and commitment to helping others has led to the establishment of the Frank Bruno Foundation, which recently announced it is to open its first base, in Northampton. Offering 12-week courses in non-contact boxing, it will provide an opportunity for people to get active and provide a focus in their lives. Frank discussed the Foundation’s work with Professor Andy Smith and Michael Salla, as there as are a lot of similarities between Everton in the Community’s and Edge Hill University's joint mental health programmes and that of the Frank Bruno Foundation.
Professor Smith said: “Given his personal experiences and the focus of the Frank Bruno Foundation, Frank was extremely interested in how our teaching and research in sport and mental health not only helps to advance understanding in the area but also how it can be used to make a positive impact on the lives of others. This was particularly true in relation to our sport, education and mental health programme, Tackling the Blues, which we and the Faculty of Education provide with Everton in the Community to children and young people across Merseyside, Lancashire and Sefton.”
Michael Salla added: “It was a privilege to discuss Everton in the Community’s life-saving mental health work with Frank Bruno, and especially our new People’s Place project which is a dedicated facility for anyone to promote good mental health and is, once again, being supported by Edge Hill as our academic partner. Frank was very complimentary of our immensely successful seven-year partnership with the University and its commitment to supporting the mental health needs of everyone, but especially those in greatest need, and we very much look forward to that continuing in the future.”
The People’s Place is a project to build a purpose-built mental health facility close to Goodison Park to provide an overarching service to anyone, regardless of age, gender or location, and promote positive mental health, alongside offering support related to suicide awareness and prevention.
For more information on The People’s Place or to make a donation, click here.