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The power of the beautiful game to inspire, heal and develop

From carefully crafted football sessions that people can just show up to, to expertly facilitated sessions for people in mental health services, to providing expert advice and guidance to teams and organisations, Creative Football changes people’s lives. We are proud to work in partnership with Together an Active Future (TaAF), Sport England and Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS.

This is what we do

From our home at the Witton Park 3G Facility in Blackburn, Lancashire, we use football in a positive way to engage people informally, anchoring the beautiful game at the heart of relationships to understand and help with wider needs. Everything we do is tailored to suit all types of individuals and services based on personal needs and ability.

Why we’re able to do what we do

Our multi-award winning team are experts in the area of people focused mental health provision and support, having been both service users and mental health practitioners for a large part of their lives. For many years they have lived and experienced living with and supporting others with mental health challenges and so know the reality of what people need, and, what they don’t need.

Our long-term vision and strategy is to embed inclusive practice by promoting system change and behaviours.

The principles at the heart of our approach:

  • Remove as many barriers as possible to make our offer accessible

  • Create a safe and positive environment

  • Promote peer support and unity

  • Be person-centred to

  • Help meet educational, employment and aspirational needs

  • Share and learn

A team with passion, understanding and lived experience

A little about the team

We have a wealth of experience as practitioners and service users and whilst it was our respective journey’s that brought us together, it’s our love of the beautiful game and a desire to create sustainable solutions to increase physical activity and mental wellbeing that led to Creative Football

The belief at the heart of what we do

Put simply, we believe that the current mental health support offer for people should and can be better by recognising that clinical intervention alone is not enough for anyone. Football allows us to do the simple things that can make a big difference whilst complimenting the work of other interventions.

Regardless of the reason someone needs us, we create an environment that is safe, fun, therapeutic and where everyone shares an ethos of respect, empathy and support. This approach creates a diverse network of support and friendships that many people haven’t experienced before. For some it’s the first time they are recognised for who they actually are rather than by their diagnosis. That is life-changing.

We offer a number of football initiatives including Blokes United, Girls United and the Social Inclusion Football League, alongside several ‘Just Play’ sessions.

Blokes United & Girls United:

The main focus of these two groups is to provide a support group for those not supported by formal mental health services and in many cases act as a preventative measure to a deterioration in general wellbeing.

These sessions are intended for individuals who may be feeling socially isolated and unable to access mainstream football, but also to those who work and cannot access the day-time sessions. Typically, this would include those who have lost their social networks through, for example, work, family commitments, relationship breakdowns, unemployment and bereavement.

Girls United is a women-only session and often attracts socially isolated mums and students.

Social Inclusion / Just Play Sessions:

These sessions are incredibly popular with those accessing services, incorporating a wide-range of backgrounds. The sessions are mixed, fun and supportive and have become a staple over the years with service activity timetables.

The Social Inclusion Football League (SIFL):

The SIFL provides competitive football for individuals and community group / organisations throughout the North West and further afield. The SIFL is currently celebrating its 10th year and has, over the years, supported teams from the likes of Lancashire Mind, Derby County Community Trust, Nightsafe, Thomas Project, Kemple View (Priory Care), Bolton Wanderers Community Trust, Alternative Futures Group and CSI within its Premier League and Championship divisions.

More recently, the SIFL has launched its Academy League which provides competitive football for those with additional learning and physical needs. The SIFL Academy has given the majority of participants, their first opportunity to play in a team with peers of a similar ability. The SIFL Academy is currently supported by Blackburn College.

Social Support:

In addition to its Football sessions, Creative Football offer a range of other activities including Cycling, Walking and Table Tennis. Away from physical activities, it also provides holistic 1:1 support around mental wellbeing, finances, housing, employment and education.

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