Think With Your Feet

Participants in Middlesbrough FC kits huddle up for a team talk

Football is increasingly being recognised as a valuable tool for practical mental health therapy, and MFC Foundation is very much at the forefront of this endeavour.

MFC Foundation’s ‘Think with Your Feet’ mental health football sessions have rapidly expanded since they began in February 2015 and this is mainly due to the ever growing partnership with MIND and their ‘Get set to go project’ which refers service users into our weekly football sessions.

As well as weekly football session participants are also given the opportunity to represent MFC Foundation in national competitions ran by similar initiatives at other football clubs.

The team, currently ranked 1st in the country after winning the National Mental Health Championships hosted by Everton in the Community, have won a range of silverware this year after wins in Northampton, Derby and Rotherham. Alongside this a group of participants were lucky enough to go to Munich, thanks to fundraising and sponsors, and compete in the EASI-Regenbogen-Cup which they also won in extra time.

The impact of the sessions goes above and beyond keeping fit and playing football.

“Not so long ago, I tried to kill myself and was also harming myself. Now, through football and MFC Foundation’s football team I can see a point to my life. I enjoy spending time there and have made loads of friends. All the lads and the coaches are superb, I love playing with MFC Foundation – I love the Boro, but not as much as the Boro loves me.” – Think With Your Feet participant

We also hold an annual Social Inclusion tournament, which this year alongside Everton’s National Championships, was the joint biggest tournament in the UK attracting teams from as far as Carlisle and Wrexham.

If you would like to know more, please email claire.streeter@mfcfoundation.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.