Members of the Preston North End Community and Education Trust Sporting Memories programme have met at Deepdale to complete a Mile for Mind and raise awareness of mental health as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.
The Mile for Mind challenge is asking members of the public to complete a mile – no matter whether by walking, skipping or running – to raise awareness of mental health and fundraise for the EFL’s official charity partner Mind.
Clubs from across the country and the EFL have been supporting the initiative throughout Mental Health Awareness Week, running from Monday 10th May until Sunday 16th May.
The Sporting Memories Foundation is a registered charity dedicated to sports reminiscence and physical activity, supporting those living with dementia, depression and loneliness.
The programme first formed part of the Trust’s provision in October 2019 on a Tuesday morning, with members meeting to recount their memories in sport, while also taking part in light physical activity, quizzes, themed topical discussions and looking at historical sporting items and memorabilia to evoke people’s memories.
Sporting Memories has now been running online since March last year because of the Coronavirus pandemic, albeit with great success, with more than 20 members logging on each week for their fix of sporting discussion.
In completing their Mile for Mind around Moor Park, opposite Deepdale, the Sporting Memories members met again – or for the first time, in some cases – since March 2020.
Health and Wellbeing Officer Hannah White, who oversees the Sporting Memories provision, said: “We have been out for our Mile for Mind walk with some of our Sporting Memories participants. We’ve been raising awareness because it’s Mental Health Awareness Week.
“We invited the Sporting Memories group down because we’ve not seen them in over a year. We’ve been delivering online and with everything that the Sporting Memories session stands for – tackling loneliness, depression and Alzheimer’s – it seemed like the perfect group of people to invite down.
“We’ve got out, the sun has been shining and we’ve been able to meet up in our small group of six. The conversation has been flowing and it has been a lovely way to clear people’s heads.
“We’ve got like-minded people who have come out today and some of them have never met each other in person before. It’s been a lovely walk around Moor Park.”
Malcolm Rae, one of the lead volunteers on the programme, was among four members to complete the Mile for Mind, alongside two PNECET staff.
He has found the weekly Sporting Memories meetings to be essential in supporting people’s mental health since the programme went online.
“It has been critical. It’s given people a purpose, something to look forward to – which is part of wellness and resilience – and it’s a chance to swap memories but also to make plans for the future and what’s happening at the moment.
“Doing it on Zoom has been terrific and it has engaged a lot more people. I do miss the physical presence as well that we used to have.
“I can’t emphasise enough how important it is for people to engage with others. We all need stimulation and human contact and this has facilitated that.”
Malcolm felt that gaining face-to-face contact while exercising at the same time were two highly beneficial ways to support people’s mental health.
He added: “Exercise is critical. Being in touch with nature, it releases endorphins, and makes you feel good if you feel fitter. If you feel sluggish, that can be counter-productive to positive self-esteem. Exercise with others is really, really good.
“It’s really important for wellness to stay connected with people. A lot of people have missed out on that contact. It’s stimulating and gives us a purpose and things to talk about.”
The EFL and Mind are asking for each person who completes the Mile for Mind to nominate three family friends, colleagues or family members to take on the challenge themselves – representing the one in four people who experience a mental health problem each year – and to make a £4 donation if they can.
If you are planning to complete a Mile for Mind yourself, be sure to share a photo or video of yourself on social media using the hashtags #MileForMind and #MHAW21.
To learn more about the Sporting Memories programme and find out how you, a friend or family member can get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.