Lifting spirits with sport: Kick Mental Health group launches at Lanark Racecourse
Participants of 'Kick Mental Health' at Lanark Racecourse
A football session, aimed at providing support for those experiencing mental health issues, is now running every Wednesday night at the Racecourse.
Ally Bingham, 26, from Lanark, started the initiative, Kick Mental Health, last month to offer an opportunity for ‘anyone’ who may benefit from the social interaction and physical activity it provides.
The storeman, who has played at amateur level and previously coached youth football, was spurred into action when his regular game folded.
Ally has observed how playing football, can help to contribute towards strong mental health, but realised that not everyone has access to the game.
He said: “I was talking with someone who said, ‘I don’t actually have anyone to play football with’ and I thought if there’s nobody for him to play with then maybe there are loads of people like that.”
Ally launched a Facebook page to start a 7-a-side group and within a day had 14 people signed up to take part.
Mitchell Tweed, 21, joined the game to support the initiative and has found the experience of playing in the Kick Mental Health forum beneficial.
Mitchell said: “Usually when I am playing with my friends it can get competitive, but out there (Kick Mental Health game) everyone’s encouraging you and even if you’re not doing well everyone’s behind you, which is really good.”
He said: “It’s just a game to come out and clear your head basically.”
Councillor Julia Marrs said: “I am delighted that Kick Mental Health is doing such great work combining sport and support for people struggling with mental health.
“A combination that can deal with the stigma of seeking help with activity and offering peer interaction, I’m certain that this group will grow from strength to strength.”
The session kicks off at 8.30pm, every Wednesday at Lanark Racecourse, finishing at 9.30pm.
Starting this week, one of the changing rooms will be open during the game for a walk-in chat session where coffee and tea will be provided.
The football and tea and coffee are free, but a donation is welcomed to cover the cost of the pitch hire.
Donations have also been received from community groups, Clydesdale Community Music Studio and Lanark United.
Already Kick Mental Health is branching out with a second group about to commence on a Monday evening from 8.30pm to 9.30pm at Polbeth Community HUB.
Ally would like to see the gathering at Lanark continue to grow and for all three, 7-a-side football pitches at the Racecourse to be utilised on a Wednesday night.
He said: “Future plans might be to get a football team up and running and a couple of people have also been asking about walking football.
“It’s 5-a-side with no running involved, so that might be something for the future too.”
More information about the initiative can be found on Facebook @KickMentalHealth or on Twitter @KickMentalH
Article contributed by Alison Gilchrist.