The project, which has been funded by City Football Group’s ‘Cityzens Giving for Recovery’ initiative, will harness the power of football to help provide support for thousands of people aged 14 to 25.
A dedicated team has developed a new 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.
Staff have been trained to help identify, support, and refer potential mental health issues for any participant.
The programme forms part of the wide-ranging ‘Cityzens Giving for Recovery’ 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.
Since June, City Football Group has matched donations pound for pound from kind-hearted City fans and partners, so far raising more than £580,000 for recovery projects around the world.
In Manchester, the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic 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.
Respondents reported a range of ways in which the crisis had impacted children and young people including increased anxiety and depression, greater sense of loss and fear, increased mood swings or children becoming more emotional, and lack of structure and routine having a negative impact.
Physical activity, including football, can play a key role in improving the mental health and wellbeing of young people. Benefits include improved mood due to the hormones released by exercising, better sleep, managing stress and anxiety, improved self-esteem and connecting with other people.
So far, the Cityzens Giving for Recovery Manchester programme has been introduced to two projects, with 1,300 people due to be reached across all CITC projects within 2021.
Mike Green, Head of City in the Community, said: “Manchester kids are at the heart of everything we do, and we are pleased to be launching a new initiative which has been created to adapt to their needs, due to the ongoing pandemic.
“Mental health problems are not new, but with youngsters living through an increased level of social isolation and uncertainty, now is the time to enhance our level of support.
“Thanks to the generosity of our incredible fans and the City Football Group, we now have the funds to deliver this project for a full year. Every penny raised moving forward will help us to continue for a second twelve months, when many will still be feeling the impacts of the coronavirus.
“I’d like to express my sincere thanks to everyone who has donated so far. The team is looking forward to continuing the expansion of the project over the coming weeks and supporting more Manchester children with their mental wellbeing than ever before.”
City Football Group is continuing to match donations by fans until 30 June 2021* and hope to raise a total of £1million, helping to support ten recovery-linked projects near each City Football Group club (Manchester, Melbourne, Lommel, Chengdu, Mumbai, Yokohama, Girona, New York and Uruguay).
Young Leaders Mental Health Awareness and Managing Wellbeing sessions have already been delivered across Sao Paolo, Mumbai, Kilifi, Kolkata, Hanoi and Mexico City, as well as Manchester.
To support Cityzens Giving for Recovery, visit: cityzensgiving.org.
*To a limit of £500,000 across all projects - see FAQs for more info https://www.globalgiving.org/city-group-faq/.