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Cambridge United establish school mental health project ‘Mind Your Head’

Cambridge United have established a new secondary school mental health project to improve well-being and help young people deal better with stress and anxiety. The ‘Mind Your Head’ pilot has been running since January 2018 in 5 central Cambridge secondary schools and will have reached 600 young people by the end of this summer term. It is part of the Club’s wider commitment to promoting positive mental health at the Club and in the community. The Club is announcing the project to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week.

‘Mind Your Head’ is delivered through Cambridge United Community Trust in partnership with Cambridge youth mental-health charity Centre 33. The programme provides lessons that destigmatize mental health, educate young people about how to deal with stress and also encourage young people to discuss how social media can both positively and negatively affect their well-being. The programme uses the brand of Cambridge United as well as video content and lesson visits from footballers as part of the programme. The 'Mind Your Head’ Programme was initiated and funded by Inc., a long-term club sponsor, together with two private donors

Josh Turner, one of the pupils taking part from Trumpington Community College said: “Footballers coming in to tell us about mental health is actually quite profound because they are people that children look up to and they are some people’s idols. Them telling us that they sometimes can struggle with mental health is good to listen to and good for our own understanding.”

Sam Squire, a Cambridge United scholar who has been actively involved at schools said, “It’s important for Cambridge United to focus on mental health in schools as that’s when issues such as social media can challenge young people’s confidence and resilience. As a football club we can hopefully use our respected position in society to help destigmatize mental health and promote positive mental health.

Dickon Bevington, Medical Director at the Anna Freud Centre and a Consultant Psychiatrist for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust said: “In sport it is quite 'normal' to talk about strains and fractures to bones and ligaments, but if we can make it just as normal to talk about the strains and fractures that can happen in anyone's mind, this will open the door to getting earlier help for many young people, protecting them against developing more serious conditions. I applaud Cambridge United and its energetic campaign to achieve this. There is no health without mental health, and no place where it isn't appropriate to think about our thinking and our feelings; this is how we create true and winning performance, both on and off the pitch, and all credit to the players and management at the club who have backed this project with such enthusiasm and courage.”

Graham Daniels, Director of Football at Cambridge United and Chair of Cambridge United Community Trust said: “We want Cambridge United to take a leadership position on mental health within the game and within our community. Everyone has mental health. We can all have our ups and downs. We believe it is particularly important to help equip young people with the skills to deal with the challenges they inevitably face as they grow up. It all forms part of our wider effort as a Club to show the positive power of football throughout the community."


Cambridge City Council have recently released a public consultation on a proposed new Parkrun on Coldham’s Common giving local residents, runners and other interested parties the chance to comment on the proposal.

Parkrun is a free 5km timed run that takes place on Saturday mornings at 9am every week at over 500 locations around the country. Currently, there are two Parkrun venues near Cambridge – one at Milton Country Park and one at Wimpole Hall – and because of their increasing popularity the race is on to find another suitable location, preferably near the centre of Cambridge. Coldham’s Common has therefore been identified as a potential site.

Cambridge United Community Trust are particularly excited by this proposal, as Coldham’s Common is on the doorstep of the Abbey Stadium.

Simon Wall, Cambridge United Community Trust’s Community Liaison Officer and member of the core team trying to bring Parkrun to Coldham’s Common, explained: “A Parkrun in the heart of the Abbey Ward will make such a difference. It won’t just give local people the opportunity to get fit on their doorstep, but will also open up the chance for them to volunteer and become part of a fantastic, friendly community.”

Matt Walker, Cambridge United’s Head of Performance, is a passionate supporter of Parkrun and added: “I love Parkrun. As a former PE teacher one of the biggest challenges is getting lifelong physically active young people and breaking down beliefs that exercise, activity and sport are all the same thing. The beauty of Parkrun… that it is all inclusive from top runner to novice, young to old, in great shape to wanting to start being active. You can compete against others if you want, compete against yourself if you want or simply be externally motivated by a regular commitment to turn up and move once a week. The physical and mental health benefits are enormous, I have seen people I know transformed by Parkrun and my own children get the bug of wanting to go every week. The sense of welcome, community and non-judgemental outlook is fantastic. The more of these in local communities the better.”

Cambridge United and Coldham’s Common have a longstanding connection. The Stadium Manager and Head Groundsman, Ian Darler, recalled: “…the players here at the stadium in the late 70s and early 1980s used the common on a regular basis for their stamina work. It was known as the common run by the players and used to take them around thirteen minutes to complete.”

The consultation ends on Saturday, 2nd June. To contribute to the survey please follow the link: or you can request a hard copy from the Customer Service Centre at Mandela House, Regent Street.

Proposed route for Coldham’s Common Parkrun

PUFC and CUFC join forces to STOP Suicide

The county’s two main football clubs have joined forces to support a groundbreaking suicide prevention campaign, which urges people to ask openly about suicide if they are worried that someone may be at risk.

Despite the rivalry on the pitch, Peterborough United and Cambridge United are standing together to help raise awareness of the charity-led, STOP Suicide campaign.

The award-winning campaign is led by Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and South Lincolnshire (CPSL) Mind in partnership with Lifecraft, and supported by local NHS and local authority teams.

Peterborough United club captain, Jack Baldwin and Cambridge United club captain, Gary Deegan, were photographed side-by-side holding the STOP Suicide I’d Ask pledge cards at the Abbey Stadium.

The clubs’ support comes in the same week as the launch of STOP Suicide’s latest campaign phase. This includes high-profile campaign resources targeted at people living and working across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire, using a powerful film, direct radio and bus advertising, community roadshows, and real people’s stories shared online.

Baldwin said: “This is an incredibly important message to get across and it’s great that we can work closely with Cambridge United to raise awareness. Bottling emotions up can be really dangerous, this is a subject that can affect anyone and we want to try and take it away from being a taboo subject.”

Ben Szreter of Cambridge United Community Trust, added: “We were delighted to be asked to support the STOP Suicide campaign alongside Peterborough United. This important issue transcends football rivalries. We hope that between our two clubs we can in some small part help with the prevention of suicide in Cambridgeshire by standing together to encourage people to ask about suicide.”

Central to the campaign is the STOP Suicide Pledge, which invites people to sign up to talking more openly about suicide and to seek help if they are struggling. To date, more than 1400 individual and over 50 organisations, including the two football clubs, have signed up. Pledge your support online at and encourage others to do the same by sharing on social media using the hashtags #IdAsk and #STOPSuicide

STOP Suicide campaign makers will be at Saturday's fixture with Port Vale at The Abbey Stadium to engage with supporters and provide potentially life-saving resources.

For more information and to access advice, including 24-hour support via the NHS First Response Service, by dialling 111 option 2, visit:

U’s Supporter’s ‘SMART’ Move

On Saturday April 21st the winner of our Sugar Smart Cambridge competition came to the stadium to pick up his prize.

During February, Cambridge United supporters were asked to challenge themselves to reduce their sugar intake and then write about it on social media to be in with a chance of winning a signed Cambridge United shirt.

Richard Charter, a Cambridge United season ticket holder, Tweeted his personal challenge. He was determined to lose weight by improving his diet, joining Man v fat (a football league specifically set up for men who want to lose weight), and going to the gym. Fortunately for Richard, his name was picked out of the hat and his hard work was therefore rewarded with the signed shirt.

When asked if he had any healthy tips, Richard replied, “Buy fresh food and no takeaway.”

If you would still like to get involved in the campaign there is still time. You just need to challenge yourself to ‘GO SUGAR SMART’ and reduce the amount of added sugar you consume. Using the tag #SUGARSMARTCambridge (on Facebook or Twitter) explain what you’re doing and how you’re getting on.

Liam O'Neil Wins Community Player of the Year

Cambridge United player Liam O’Neil has today been named as the 2017/18 EFL Sky Bet League Two PFA Player in the Community. Liam will receive the prestigious award on Sunday 15th April at the EFL Awards ceremony in London.

Liam, who grew up locally to Cambridge, was nominated for his involvement across a wide range of community activities including match report writing projects in local primary schools which encourage children to have an interest in writing. He has also been a strong advocate of Cambridge United’s mental health project including providing video content for lessons delivered in secondary schools. Liam also spoke about the importance of the Community Trust’s work at the launch of Cambridge United’s Community strategy Game Plan 2020 in December.

Liam commented, “It’s a privilege to be in a position where people might look at you as role model and I want to use that position as positively as possible. Having grown up around Cambridge I’m really glad that I can play a part in supporting the important work of Cambridge United in our local community and I’m humbled to have been recognised for this award.”

Ben Szreter, Cambridge United Community Trust CEO, said “Liam has been an exceptional asset to Cambridge United’s community work, he is always willing to be involved and takes that involvement above and beyond what is expected. Having grown up in the area he really understands the importance of Cambridge United to our local community and he is committed to ensuring we as a club can have as big an impact in our community as possible. Liam thoroughly deserves this award and everyone at Cambridge United is delighted he has been recognised in this way.

You can read more about the award and Liam's community work in this week's Cambridge Independent.