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Walking Football update

When you see the U’s endlessly running up and down the pitch, it’s easy to think: ‘I could never do that. I’m too old/unfit/untalented.’ This lack of confidence can stop people from even lacing up their trainers. At Cambridge United Community Trust, our Health programme is designed to engage people in sport, no matter their ability or (lack of) previous experience; one of our regular sessions is Walking Football.

Our Walking Football sessions take place every Thursday from 11am – 12pm at the Abbey Leisure Complex, followed by lunch at the Abbey Arms at the stadium. When the sessions began, they consisted of short football drills, but as the participants’ fitness has improved, the sessions start with a warm-up before getting into 5-a-side matches. The recent hot weather has also not been a deterrent – a recent session had 20 people attending!

The ‘Ambling Amber Army’, as they are known, has also played against other teams, including the FA People’s Cup earlier this year. They had a great tournament, beginning with three victories, before conceding two and drawing one.

Derek Wall is a regular attendee at Walking Football. When asked about his experiences, he said that the best part of the group is ‘meeting up with other people’ and that ‘you often find that there’s connections’. Derek also said that Walking Football has helped him because his arms and legs are stronger, which allowed him to walk up volcanoes and mountains on his last holiday!

Andrew Stephen is another attendee who is full of praise for the sessions. He said: ‘it is a very supportive environment and it’s very good for your health too’.

Cambridge City Council also came to one of our sessions; to see our players in action, make sure to watch their video here:

Walking Football is organised by Phil Mullen, the Disability Officer for Cambridge United Community Trust. He said: 'I really enjoy coaching the walking football sessions. It’s fantastic to see players developing not only from a physical point of view i.e learning new football skills and improving health & fitness, But also from a mental health and wellbeing side. It’s great to see players growing in confidence and forming new friendships.'

Our Walking Football sessions are mixed-gender and open to all over 50s, irrespective of ability or experience. If you would like to get involved in Walking Football, please contact communitytrust@cambridge-united.co.uk.

Trust receives council grant to launch a stadium fitness programme

Cambridge United Community Trust is delighted to announce that we have been awarded a grant from Cambridge City Council to set up a stadium fitness programme at the Abbey Stadium. This programme will provide free fitness sessions for the local community, led by a qualified instructor from Full Circle Fitness Bootcamps. Session activities will use the features of the Abbey Stadium in an innovative way – think using the stands for stair workouts, the space behind the goal for shuttle runs and the hospitality rooms for circuit training!

Although Cambridge is home to the richest university in Britain, it is also the UK’s 2nd most unequal city. For example, the Abbey Ward (where the stadium is located) is among the 20% of most deprived wards in the country. The Cambridge City Council 2014-2017 Anti-Poverty Strategy has demonstrated the close relationship between low incomes and poorer health outcomes in the city: ‘life expectancy for women 10 years [is] lower in the most deprived area of Cambridge than the least deprived, and 9.6 years lower for men’.[1] This demonstrates the need for affordable exercise programmes in Cambridge.

In light of this research, the Community Trust has launched the stadium fitness programme with the aim of removing some of the economic barriers that prevent Abbey Ward residents from taking part in regular exercise. Participants that join our programme will have the opportunity to develop healthier lifestyles, improve their mental well-being and create a greater sense of community. The stadium fitness programme is in line with the Community Trust’s wider commitment to providing services for the people of Abbey Ward, the home of Cambridge United since 1932.

Simon Wall, Community Liaison Officer for the Community Trust, said:

“To be able to access quality fitness programmes in Cambridge, whether that be by buying a gym membership or by joining an organised bootcamp group, it often costs a lot of money, which is not inclusive. It is therefore the Community Trust’s vision to help as many people as possible to have access to affordable fitness groups, which is why we created ‘Stadium Fitness’.

I am excited that the Trust are able to offer the residents of Abbey Ward another opportunity to get fit, make new friends and strengthen the bond further between Cambridge United and the local community.

This is a fantastic opportunity to get quality fitness instruction without breaking the bank.”

The stadium fitness programme is open to everyone of all ages and abilities, and it will be starting on Wednesday 12th September. For more information, please contact our Community Liaison Officer, Simon Wall, at simon.wall@cambridge-united.co.uk.

[1] Executive Summary Anti-Poverty Strategy https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Executive%20Summary%20APS.pdf

Do your shopping at Tescos? Commit to the Trust at the same time!!

Cambridge United Community Trust is bidding to bag a vital cash boost from the Tesco Bags of Help initiative!

Tesco teamed up with Groundwork to launch its community funding scheme, which sees grants of £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 raised from carrier bag sales in Tesco stores awarded to local community projects.

Three groups in every Tesco region have been shortlisted to receive the cash award and shoppers are being invited to head along to Tesco stores to vote for who they think should take away the top grant.

Cambridge United Community Trust is one of the groups on the shortlist. The potential funding will help our Down Syndrome Football sessions enormously to continue to grow and develop further!

Every Saturday morning, football players with Down’s syndrome come to Impington Village College Sports Centre to play football in a safe and friendly environment.
The sessions have become so popular that the sports hall is divided into two halves based on age. Parents and Siblings are encouraged to join in with the football which gives an opportunity for families to spend quality time together. Our Disability Sports Officer, Phil Mullen runs the session and is assisted by volunteers from the football sessions he runs for people with cerebral palsy.

A disabled person is still half as likely to play sport as a non-disabled person and Down’s Syndrome is no exception within this. As a society, we should seek to challenge and change this trend so that we can enable disabled people to view taking part in sport as a practical lifestyle choice. We have seen the way that taking part can develop the players’ self-esteem and confidence.

This funding is needed to allow the project to continue because although the participants pay a small fee, it does not cover the costs. Increasing the fees would put up a barrier to participation and so is not something we would want to consider.

Voting is open in all Tesco stores in August and customers can cast their vote using a token given to them at the check-out in store each time they shop!

Tesco’s Bags of Help project has already delivered over £52 million to more than 16,000 projects up and down the UK. Tesco customers get the chance to vote for three different groups every time they shop. Every other month, when votes are collected, three groups in each of Tesco’s regions will be awarded funding.

Alec Brown, Head of Community at Tesco, said: “Bags of Help has been a fantastic success and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from customers. It’s such a special scheme because it’s local people who decide how the money will be spent in their community. There are some fantastic projects on the shortlists and we can’t wait to see these come to life in hundreds of communities.”

The Bags of Help tokens are in these Tesco stores:

East Road Tesco Express, CB11BG

Newmarket Road Superstore, CB5 8HE

Clifton Road Tesco Express, CB17DZ

Cherry Hinton Tesco Express CB19HU

Chesterton Tesco Express, CB41NX

Fulborun Cherry Hinton Superstore, CB19BF

Great Shelford Tesco Express, CB225EY

Hills Road Tesco Express CB21NW

Mill Road Tesco Express, CB13AN

Cambridge United announce 'Mentally Healthy' action plan

Cambridge United Community Trust are delighted to reveal that we will be continuing to deliver mental health projects throughout the wider Cambridge community throughout the 2018/2019 season. These projects form part of Cambridge United’s overall commitment to becoming a ‘mentally healthy’ football club and leading the way in terms of mental health provision within the sport.

Cambridge United have just announced the ‘Mentally Healthy’ action plan to improve mental health provision both within the Club and the wider Cambridge community. Building on the success of our pilot scheme earlier this year, the Trust will be delivering the following programmes:

‘Mind Your Head’ School Programme

The Community Trust will expand the ‘Mind Your Head’ school programme for the coming academic year; we are set to go into 10 schools and meet around 1,000 students aged 11-14. The programme helps promote positive mental health through the power of sport. Watch this space for more details!

Club and Community Mental Health Drop-In sessions

The Community Trust will continue to hold mental health drop in sessions throughout the season at the Abbey Stadium in partnership with trained psychologists from Cambridgeshire County Council. These sessions aim to encourage people who might not usually seek help to do so by accessing services based at Cambridge United. The Club has also been actively supporting the STOP Suicide campaign led by Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and South Lincolnshire (CPSL) Mind in partnership with local NHS teams over recent months.

Cambridge United will also be promoting mental well-being amongst Club players and staff through 2 new initiatives:

Mental Health First Aid Training

All coaches will receive mental health first aid training, which will help them support players of all ages during stressful times and promote greater personal resilience and positive mental health.

First Team and Academy ‘Mental Health Champions’

The Club has appointed David Forde, Vicky Neal and Sam Squire as ‘Mental Health Champions’ for the men’s and women’s first team and the Academy. They will be actively promoting positive mental health within the Club and amongst the playing staff, encouraging greater conversation about an issue that affects us all.

Community Trust Chairman Graham Daniels said:

“There is wide recognition now of the need to promote positive mental health just as much as physical health in professional sport. Several of our former players have spoken eloquently of the challenges they have faced and the dark times they have gone through.

“Cambridge United wants to take a leadership position on the issue at the Club and offer more support. This plan builds on a lot of great work done last season on the issue - at the Club and in the community. Taken together it can help us become a ‘mentally healthy’ football club and hopefully contribute to future success on and off the pitch. We are very grateful to Inc who have helped drive and support this project from the start.”

Head Coach Joe Dunne said:

“This is a very positive initiative which everyone at the Club is right behind. Every single one of us has mental health. We can all have good days and bad days. In professional sport the mental challenges can often be great - given the pressures of results and performance. I want us to give even more support to players and encourage everyone at the Club to talk more openly about how they are feeling as we all stand to benefit as a result.”

David Forde said:

“I was very pleased to be asked to become the First Team Mental Health Champion and it is great to see the Club taking a lead on the issue. I have spoken about the importance of mental health a lot in the past. I know how much it matters to all of us and I look forward to helping wherever I can during the coming season.”

Sam Squire said:

“I have really enjoyed working with local schools over the last year as part of the ‘Mind Your Head’ community initiative. It is great it is continuing for another year. I understand the pressures young people can face - particularly in the social media age - and this programme is helping them develop greater personal resilience to deal with them. I also look forward to leading on the issue with the some of the younger players at the Club.”

Vicky Neal said:

“The CUFC women’s team is right behind this important programme. If we are as mentally fit as possible then that can only help our performance on the pitch.”

Creating a community that is 'United by Memories'

As part of our ongoing commitment to the local community, Cambridge United Community Trust runs ‘United by Memories’, which is a monthly café for individuals living with dementia at home and their care partners. ‘Dementia cafés’ like ours play a fundamental role in communities across the country, providing a safe and social space where attendees can socialise and chat with like-minded people.

Many dementia cafés organise art or music activities for participants, but at CUCT we felt there was an opportunity to provide a space for people with other interests. With this in mind, we established ‘United by Memories’ in February 2018, where attendees can talk all things football, sport and Cambridge United (and other things, of course!). As well as staff from CUCT, volunteers from 100 Years of Coconuts, the historical arm of Cambridge United, also come along to share their knowledge and passion. In addition, CUCT is delighted to be working with Dementia Compass, a local charity supporting people living with dementia, who provide valuable expertise on how to make the sports café as supportive and helpful as possible. We have lots of ideas on how to develop the sports café in the future, so watch this space!

So, what can you expect when you come to the ‘United by Memories’ sports café? When attendees walk in, they are warmly welcomed by our staff and volunteers, and are offered tea, coffee and biscuits. A table in the middle of the room is covered in sports memorabilia and photos, which are used to spark conversations between participants and volunteers. Last month, topics of conversation included the old Cambridge tradition of skipping held on Parker’s Piece on Good Friday (do any of our readers remember this?!) and how football boots have changed over the years. With conversations revolving around shared interests and local history rather than dementia itself, the sports café provides a moment of respite for both the individuals living with dementia and their care givers.

Each session is organised around a particular theme or event, with last month’s theme being the World Cup. We watched a video of the highlights of England’s victory in 1966, and then a video of England’s route to qualification in 2018. Next month, we will be joined by current and former Cambridge United football players, who will be talking about their experiences of playing with the club.

If, after reading this article, you would be interested in coming to our next ‘United by Memories’ sports café, please email communitytrust@cambridge-united.co.uk or call 0123632129 for more information. We would love to see you there!