Two participants from Preston North End Community and Education Trust’s Goals mental health programme will collectively walk and cycle a total of 72 miles, spanning three Lancashire football grounds, while fundraising for the club’s official charity – in return for the support they have received as part of their bespoke personal development plans.
* UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, this event has now been rescheduled for Thursday 5th August.
Joe Martin was the first young person to enrol on the Goals mental health programme in September 2019, following his referral to CAMHS [Child Adolescent Mental Health Services] after losing his father to suicide the previous year, while his younger brother Oliver was enrolled onto the programme soon after in February 2020.
Joe and Oliver have since accessed unique opportunities from Preston North End as part of their personal development plans to build their confidence, communication, leadership and resilience.
Joe has twice visited the club’s training ground and met the first team squad, volunteered on the Trust’s half-term soccer schools and assisted with the co-ordination of the half-time penalty shoot out on the pitch at Deepdale on home matchdays as part of his journey.
Along the way, Joe and Oliver have developed a friendship with goalkeeper Declan Rudd – the club’s reigning Community Player of the Year – and they have since been joined by Charlie on the programme, who has also sadly lost his father to suicide.
The development of Joe in particular over almost two years with PNECET has allowed him to rediscover his passion for football, and he now wants to help other children to receive the same support that he has from the Goals mental health programme, by raising funds for the club’s official charity.
Joe is set to cycle 50 miles from the Mazuma Stadium, home of Morecambe FC, via Bloomfield Road, home of Blackpool FC, and finally to Preston North End’s Deepdale home.
Meanwhile, younger brother Oliver will walk 22 miles from Lancaster to Deepdale – reflecting the differing paths the two siblings have taken with regards to receiving support for their mental wellbeing from PNECET.
Joe and Oliver will aim to raise £720 by cycling and walking the combined 72 miles; reflecting their father’s year of birth, in 1972.
Joe said: “When I first joined [the mental health programme], I was in a really bad place. I started doing things like the half-time game, which helped with my confidence. Over time, that helped me to deal with tricky situations and to get through situations that weren’t too comfortable.
“Doing the bike ride, we can go past a lot of places that mean a lot to me. We’re going to go from Morecambe, where my dad died, through Blackpool, where my dad grew up, and all the way to Preston. I think it’s a good way to give back.
“I want to give back to PNECET and that would help to give others the same support that I have had, because it has really helped. If there are people out there who are going through something like we did, and we can help by doing a bike ride, then it is definitely worth it.
“We want to raise awareness so that people can speak out about how they’re feeling and realise that there are people who can help them. At the same time, we want to raise money to give back and help other people like us through similar schemes.”
Younger brother Oliver added: “I remember the first time Joe went onto the pitch and he looked a nervous wreck. The most recent time, it was completely different. Making that possible for others like us would be amazing, which is a big reason why we’re doing it.”
Joe will be joined on the bike ride by his stepdad Darren and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Trust, Harriet Creighton-Levis, who leads on the Trust’s mental health provision, having first met with Joe at his school in September 2019 – where his unique personal development plan was drawn up.
Meanwhile, Oliver will walk the 22-mile distance from Lancaster to Preston with his mother, Jenny.
Harriet Creighton-Levis said: “It has been a privilege to work with Joe, Oliver and their family for almost two years to support them with their mental health.
“Watching how much Joe and Oliver grown in the last two years has been fantastic to see. Through the various opportunities they have accessed through PNECET, Joe and Oliver have been able to develop their confidence, resilience, communication and leadership skills.
“I am proud that Joe and Oliver feel that the programme has supported them to such an extent that they now want to fundraise for the Trust, to help us continue this programme for other young children who have lost a parent to suicide.
“The bike ride will be a great physical challenge, again promoting the positive impact of exercise on people’s mental wellbeing, while also being a great way to share the fantastic journey that Joe and Oliver have been on with PNECET.”
For more information about the Trust’s Goals mental health programme, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate to Joe and Oliver’s Road to Recovery fundraiser, please click here.