Extra Life

Stewart Downing and Ben Gibson pose with a yellow Extra Life poster in the club kit room

Football fans know all about extra time, but Boro supporters will soon be talking Extra Life thanks to a new health initiative. Middlesbrough Football Club has signed up to the ‘healthy settings’ scheme, which works within organisations to improve the health and wellbeing of their staff and service users. As well as targeting Middlesbrough FC and Foundation employees, the scheme will be rolled out to Boro fans across the region, and all visitors to the club’s facilities.

Developed by Public Health at Middlesbrough Council, the initiative works by identifying the specific health needs within a setting; and implementing lasting health improvement and population behaviour change.

In this instance, the findings of Extra Life have been used to shape the objectives of future health projects implemented by MFC Foundation, the official charitable arm of Middlesbrough FC, in their work with Boro fans, as well as encouraging both club and Foundation staff to lead healthier lives.

Michael James, Middlesbrough FC’s Chief Financial Officer, said: “Middlesbrough Football Club is committed to improving the health of people on Teesside, from our own staff to the wider community of Boro fans. We’re delighted to join the Extra Life drive, which provides an invaluable opportunity to tailor our efforts and make significant strides together with our supporters.”

Middlesbrough suffers from poor health outcomes and a high number of people dying early from preventable illnesses. Factors including smoking, poor diet and a lack of physical activity all contribute to this, and the club are keen to target and work to meet these needs.

Helena Bowman, Head of MFC Foundation, said: “MFC Foundation already delivers strong health projects in our community, but Extra Life will enable us to shape what we are doing around the needs of the Boro fans. We believe this project will help us to provide the most meaningful and impactful campaigns, where they are most needed.”
The most recent research suggests an estimated 131 million days are lost to sickness absence each year in the UK, while up to 50% of health and wellbeing is thought to be determined by social factors and the environment in which people live and work. This in turn has an impact on productivity, a major stumbling block for rebuilding the economy locally and nationally. For more information about Extra Life, please visit www.extralifesettings.co.uk

Football Welcomes: Shaygan’s Story

SHAYGAN is from Iran. His story as a 20-year-old began with MFC Foundation around April 2019 as a participant in our Football Welcomes programme, the very same programme we are highlighting today, the EFL’s Day of Action.

The programme is an initiative to create a more welcoming community for those seeking refuge and asylum. He hadn’t been in the country long before he started attending sessions.

A keen student of football, Shaygan began volunteering on the Football Welcomes programme organising warm-ups, cool downs and various other activities for the participants. He also assisted in getting teams together for regular tournaments against other programmes and indeed Foundations from across the country. Other roles during this time included being an interpreter for coaches for participants from Iranian, Kurdish and Afghan backgrounds.

Upon gaining his status in the country Shaygan was able to sign up to the MFC Foundation traineeships programme. As part of his as well as gaining a number of qualifications based around football such as Sports Leader, First Aid and Safeguarding he also completed 100hrs work experience. The work experience involved him getting knowledge of a number of different programmes the Foundation deliver across the Tees Valley area.

His journey continued when he gained employment with the organisation. After completing his traineeship, he was successful in getting a 20hr a week contract as a Business Support Worker. This involved him being part of the day to day running of the MFC Foundation Herlingshaw Centre as well as assisting on many of the different programmes the Foundation delivers.

Shaygan’s next calling has taken him to London and occasional work with Amnesty UK and Fulham. But he never forgets where his new life started.