Cardiff City FC’s Foundation (CCFCF) programme works with young people to offer opportunities in sport, education and skill based learning – working with young people aged 8-18 on a one-to-one basis, helping young people access positive activities of interest to them, while attempting to influence positive behaviour change.
“We tackle inequality and overcome barriers by helping people to lead healthier more active lives, improving education and employment opportunities, reducing offending and re-offending.” (CCFCF 2022)
We, at the Mental Health Foundation, have been pleased to journey alongside CCFCF as learning partners. We've been lucky to learn from their expert staff, and pass on our knowledge too - helping build capacity within their expert team around the topic of mental health.
Replicating an approach taken in a targeted intervention programme for young people who are, or who are at risk of, becoming involved in youth violence. The ‘Head in the Game’ project allows CCFCF mentors to support young people who are experiencing mental health issues. This includes targeted one-to-one mentoring work, help with building healthy relationships, coping strategies and communication skills.
To support this, we’ve delivered trauma informed metal health workshops across the CCFCF workforce, this approach to training complements the bespoke programme.
Research shows ACEs (adverse childhood experiences), like traumatic events or high stress environments can increase the risk of a young person developing mental health, behaviour problems or learning difficulties. However, positive relationships with other people, and strong role models, especially those informed, and comfortable talking about mental health, can be of great benefit and aid prevention.
CCFCF staff are in a unique position to encourage positive change in young people involved in the programme. As Perry and Szalavitz (2017) state ‘the most therapeutic experiences do not occur in therapy, but within naturally occurring healthy relationships’.
We are pleased to add to the ‘mental health toolkits’ of staff working on the project – our previous work has shown that “building capacity and confidence for those surrounding a young person experiencing mental health distress can increase mental health wellbeing in our young population”. (Children and Young People’s Mental Health Resilience Project - MHF - 2021) We’re delighted to see the programme going from strength to strength – benefitting young people across South Wales.