Football scheme for mental health launched in Lewes

Onwards and upwards: Sean Macleod and Jo Benson
Onwards and upwards: Sean Macleod and Jo Benson

Lewes Football Club is announcing the launch of a new three-fold initiative in the area of mental well-being: ‘Football Therapy’.

Through schemes like this run elsewhere in the UK, the idea to organise something locally was the brainchild of Lewes fan and turnstile-volunteer Sean Macleod.

Sean started volunteering for the Rooks to help boost his own mental well-being and it gave him a real lift. So much so that he is now working for the national mental health charity Together (in Newhaven).

He said: “I was just stuck in the house a lot of the time because of mental health stuff. But volunteering for the Rooks gave me a real purpose and working with other people really helped to sort me out. I know the importance of just getting out there, however you can.”

The first part of the ‘Football Therapy’ plan is a series of free football coaching/playing sessions: every Monday morning at 10am (from February 10 until May 6), the football club is running a free one-hour turn-up and play football session on the all-weather pitch at the Downs Leisure Centre in Seaford.

There will be qualified coaches on hand but the idea is for people of any ability to get some welcome exercise, play a match and meet other people all at the same time.

These sessions are being backed by the mental health charity Together, the Sussex County FA and Sussex Police all of whom are united around a strategy to bring very practical help to people with mental health challenges and highlight just how common and ‘normal’ mental health issues are.

Speaking for Together, Newhaven-based Support Worker Jo Benson said: “Together was formed in 1879 so we’ve been working with people affected by mental health issues for quite some time. We know that exercise and socialising really raise people’s spirits and help them feel so much better – initiatives like this one are great news.”

Part two sees the launch of an official Lewes FC MWB Team (mental well-being) which will be formed out of the sessions and give the more eager players something to really aim for.

On May 14, the third part of the strategy sees the Dripping Pan hosting a National MWB Tournament. There will be a total of 16 teams from around the country representing clubs like Brighton, Everton, QPR, Blackburn, Crystal Palace and many others.

The club hopes to launch some Football Therapy coaching/playing sessions in Lewes when a suitable venue is found.

For more details, people can contact Adrian Howell at Lewes FC on or Jo Benson at Together on (or 01273 514753).