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Ian Richardson is no stranger to pressure, having played for Notts County over 240 times and wrestled them out of a relegation tussle in 2005. Now though, he is hoping to use his experience to ease anxieties through the Trent Bridge Community Trust’s latest initiative, Notts in Mind.

The 12-week pilot, taking place at Rushcliffe Arena, will provide an opportunity for those in the community with various mental wellbeing needs to offload through 90-minute sessions which will include discussion-based workshops and physical activity.

It is particularly pertinent for the scheme to be launched a week on from Mental Health Awareness Week, given the effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on job security, financial burdens and isolation in the Nottinghamshire area.

“We want to make a difference to lives, for people in the city and in the county” said Richardson, whose post-retirement career has centred on community work at County. 

The workshops at the beginning of each session will focus on wellbeing factors around anxiety, stress, depression, healthy living and drug and alcohol misuse. However, Richardson is keen to ensure the participants direct the conversations in ways that will help benefit them. 

“We will let the group co-produce the session. Rather than me stipulating what we will cover, I will ask the participants what they want to get out of the programme,” he says.

“Ultimately, the programme is about improving mental wellbeing so they can go back to living a life where they are fulfilled, and maybe they can get a job if the hadn’t felt in a position to do so before. 

“The idea is not to keep the same surplus of people on the programme forever, but hopefully it will be something they enjoy.”

The physical activity component is an evidenced-backed mechanism for boosting mental wellbeing, with opportunities to let off some steam through various sporting pursuits.

Richardson is also hoping that he can use sport as a vehicle for discussion throughout.

“A lot of the workshops will be related to football, because you can always find a situation which relates to depression or anxiety. I could talk about how I felt missing a penalty, or playing in front of 35,000 at Stamford Bridge, or I could talk about Paul Gascoigne when discussing drug and alcohol misuse.

“Maybe I could get a cutting from a newspaper of a player getting sent-off and can ask ‘have you ever lost your temper like that? Why did that happen?’.”

Like similar initiatives run out of Meadow Lane, Notts in Mind will be evaluated by Nottingham Trent University to measure the effectiveness of the programme over the 12-week pilot, in the hope that it can be rolled out beyond the initial phase.

The free sessions are open to any male or female who feels they are struggling with their mental wellbeing. They will take place between 11.00am and 12.30pm starting on Thursday 20 May at the Rushcliffe Arena, and will be led by qualified coaches. 

Further information is available here


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