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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!

Community Trust welcomes 200 young visitors to the Abbey for Active Science Day 2018

Active Science Day 2018

On Friday 6th July, Cambridge United Community Trust were delighted to host their second annual Active Science Day here at the Abbey Stadium. The event was a celebration of this year’s work in local primary schools on the innovative Active Science programme, developed and run in partnership with AstraZeneca, the global pharmaceutical company whose headquarters are based in Cambridge.

Almost two hundred children and staff from Abbey Meadows, Ashwell, Orchard Park and St Laurence schools attended the event and participated in a carousel of activities designed to consolidate their understanding of the links between science and sport. The overall goal of Active Science is to inspire the next generation of scientists through sport and the activities on offer were chosen to act as a final addition to the school-based sessions that have run throughout this academic year.

The first activity on offer was an interactive show put on by Cambridge Science Centre staff in the Premier Travel suite. Entitled ‘Gums to Bum’, the show covered exactly what you might expect from such a clear title, i.e. the physical journey of food through the digestive system. The finale of the show produced an extremely squidgy end product, which as well as leaving some pupils slightly horrified, also provided a fantastic scientific explanation of the processes involved for our young visitors. The show also covered the importance of healthy lifestyles and a balanced diet in order to keep our digestive systems working properly.

Following on from this, pupils had the opportunity to participate in a physically active Science lesson next to the South Stand. Delivered by Simon Wall, Community Liaison Officer for the Trust in scorching conditions, our young scientists used football as a model for developing their understanding of how forces act upon moving objects. Through exploring the different ways a football might move during a match, pupils covered key concepts such as the effects of opposite forces on a ball and how gravity can have an impact upon a match.

The final activity of the day was an informal question and answer session with AstraZeneca scientists and representatives of Cambridge United playing staff, including a first-team player from CUWFC, an ex-Cambridge United player and three scholars from the Academy. Pupils asked a range of challenging and thought-provoking questions, ranging from trying to get a more detailed understanding of the process of clinical drug trials, to the everyday impact of sports science upon the footballers. Everyone involved in this activity was thoroughly impressed by the depth of questioning from the young audience as well as their powers of concentration.

The Community Trust staff would like to thank everyone involved in making the day such a resounding success and look forward to developing Active Science further as we move into the coming academic year.

Disability Football Festival a huge success!

Following the great success of last year’s event, Cambridge United Community Trust were delighted to partner again with Histon Hornets Football Club to hold our annual Disability Sport Festival. If you were at Impington Village College on Sunday 8th July, you’d have seen over 30 people from our weekly disability football sessions taking part in games and matches. Phil Mullen, Disability Sport Officer for Cambridge United Community Trust, was there to organise the whole day and make sure everything ran smoothly, assisted by volunteers Beth and Eleanor.

The Festival included separate activities for adults and juniors. The adult players took part in matches, showing impressive skill and with lots of great goals being scored. Meanwhile, the junior players did a mixture of fun skills-based games (including crowd favourite ‘Chicken or Hero’) and short matches, putting into practice what they had learned. On one of the hard courts, there was also a dedicated frame football match for 2 of our junior players.

However, the Festival wasn’t just about playing football – having fun and making friends were just as important. Players from across our 9 sessions took part, meaning that people from different sessions could mix and get to know each other, leading to some new friendships being formed. With such a friendly and inclusive atmosphere, it wasn’t long before siblings, parents and carers were also getting involved in the fun! Temperatures reached a balmy 30C, so there were plenty of opportunities in between activities to relax in the sun and enjoy the food and ice-cream on offer.

Overall, players really enjoyed the festival and there were smiling faces all round. The event finished with an awards and presentation ceremony, with all players receiving a medal for their participation.

Phil Mullen, Disability Sport Officer for Cambridge United Community Trust, is passionate about providing more opportunities for disabled people to play sport. He was absolutely delighted with how the event went:

‘It was fantastic to see such a good level of football skills on display, new friendships being formed, and lots of happy faces from the players, parents and carers. I look forward to building numbers across all our sessions and making next year’s festival even bigger!’

Ben Szreter, CEO of Cambridge United Community Trust, highlighted the key role played by the Disability Sport Festival in the Trust’s wider disability sport programme:

‘The disability sport festival is a really important part of Cambridge United Community Trust’s disability sport programme. The event encourages a celebration of disability sport and is embedded within Histon Hornets annual youth football tournament. Once more this year there was a great atmosphere on the day celebrating inclusive sport. I’d like to thank Histon Hornets, all the participants and volunteers as well as Phil Mullen for his organisation of this inspiring event.’

Cambridge United Community Trust run 9 weekly disability football sessions: Ambulant Cerebral Palsy football, Down’s syndrome football, Blind football, Visually-impaired football, Deaf and hearing-impaired football, Frame football, Powerchair football, Amputee football and Manual wheelchair football. For more information on any of our sessions, please see: http://www.cuctrust.co.uk/disability-sport/.

If you, or someone you know, would be interested in taking part in one of our sessions, get in touch with Phil at: phil.mullen@cambridge-united.co.uk or call 07948 407950. We’d love to see you there!

Cambridge United Community Trust’s disability sport programme wins Cambridgeshire FA Community Project and Coach of the Year

Photo: Participants at the Disability Sport Festival 2018, run by CUCT in partnership with Histon Hornets FC.

Last week it was announced that Cambridge United Community Trust have picked up two awards from Cambridgeshire FA in their yearly Grassroots Football Awards. The awards are given out and recognised for efforts in helping Cambridgeshire’s football community grow and develop.

Cambridge United Community Trust’s Disability sport officer, Phil Mullen, was chosen as the Coach of the Year while the Community Trust were awarded the Community Project of the Year for its disability sport programme. The awards were given to highlight and recognise the growing opportunities that Cambridge United Community Trust provide for weekly sessions in the community for people with different disabilities.

CUCT have been growing their disability sport programme over the last few years with the work of Phil Mullen leading the way and passionately aiming to continue to provide more opportunities for people with disabilities of all ages to play sport.

CUCT’s disability sport programme currently runs 9 different disability sessions across Cambridge. The sessions consist of Ambulant Cerebral Palsy football, Down’s syndrome football, Blind football, visually impaired football, Deaf and hearing impaired football, Frame football, Power chair football, amputee football and manual wheelchair football. For more information on any of the sessions, please see: http://www.cuctrust.co.uk/disability-sport/

Photos: Paricipants at the Disability Sport Festival 2018, run by CUCT in partnership with Histon Hornets FC.

Ben Szreter, CEO of Cambridge United Community Trust, said:

“We’re humbled to receive this award for our growing disability sport programme. We want to provide opportunities for as many people as possible to play football and our disability sport programme is a big part of that. I’d also like to congratulate Phil Mullen for his incredible work coaching and inspiring people with various disabilities; he truly deserves the recognition his aware will bring him.”

Phil Mullen, Disability Sport Officer for Cambridge United Community Trust, said:

“I am very proud to be part of the team that runs Cambridge United Community trust's disability sport programme which has been named Cambridgeshire FA Grassroots Community Project of the Year. Over the past few years I have seen the disability football sessions go from strength to strength. From offering two sessions, one for Cerebral Palsy players and one for Down's Syndrome players when we first started , this has now increased to 11 separate impairment specific sessions per week including. Amputee, Autistic Spectrum Disorder/Learning disabilities, Blind, Visually Impaired, Deaf /hearing impaired, powerchair, manual wheelchair & frame users.

We also now have an annual disability football festival, hosted by Histon Hornets FC. I look forward to building on this success and growing the disability sport provision even more in the future.

I am truly honoured & humbled at being named Cambridgeshire FA Grassroots Football Coach of the Year. I get my reward at every session I coach, when I see lots of smiling faces and hear lots of giggles from people having fun, this award is the icing on the cake. I would like to thank all of my players for being amazing and great fun to coach and all the parents and carers who give their time to bring players to sessions, you are my heroes.

I would like to thank Cambridge United Community Trust who have helped and supported me to achieve my goal of providing fun football sessions for all.”

Photo: Phil Mullen, Disability Sport Officer for CUCT