The charity took home the Community Initiative of the Season award for its City Thrive project, which was launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
City Thrive harnesses the power of football to help provide support for thousands of people aged up to 25.
A dedicated team has developed a mental health curriculum, blending specially adapted football sessions with one-to-one mentoring and group workshops on mental health awareness, to improve mental wellbeing.
Additionally, specific mental health themed football sessions will be delivered from youth clubs across Manchester, enabling participants to enjoy physical activity whilst also accessing the benefits of one-to-one mentoring and group workshops.
These sessions will continue throughout the school holidays, offering support and food provision at a time when young people are most vulnerable to suffering with their physical and mental health.
City Thrive was developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Manchester, the long-term impact on children’s mental health was highlighted as a major concern amongst carers and parents.
Following a survey by Young Minds, 67% of parents and carers in the UK agreed that they were concerned about the long-term impact of the coronavirus on their child’s mental health.
In May 2021, the programme was expanded via a partnership with the NHS.
The partnership includes:
• Direct work with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) to quickly support young people who have identified mental health needs.
• Consultation to CITC staff working with young people with mental health needs.
• A rolling programme of mental health awareness training for staff across CITC.
• Support with the design, development and delivery of CITC’s emotional health and wellbeing curriculum.
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service also places a full-time practitioner directly within the City in the Community team supported by the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity.
Commenting on the award, Head of City in the Community, Mike Geary, said: “City in the Community has worked tirelessly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to support people across Manchester.
“We were committed to creating a recovery initiative that would target genuine need, and we could see early on that mental health was becoming a key concern.
“City Thrive and its partnership with the NHS enables us to offer tangible and immediate support to all the young people they work with, should they require it.
“We’d like to thank the North West Football Awards for this recognition, as well as Manchester City Football Club for their early support of the project. Congratulations to all winners.”
City Thrive, which launched in January 2021, was initially funded by ‘Cityzens Giving for Recovery’; an initiative which aims to make a positive difference in response to the COVID-19 pandemic via targeted projects near each of City Football Group’s ten clubs.
The City in the Community team has since been fundraising to ensure the project can continue in the years to come.