Five people from the Dewsbury district have taken part in a once-in-a-life-time opportunity at a coaching and tournament event at the David Beckham Football Academy.
The group all use South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust services and were entered as a team in the special event along with two members of staff, Craig Mitchell from the Dewsbury Assertive Outreach team and Shabir Makhda from Pathways Day Services in Mirfield.
28 teams from across the country won the opportunity to take part in the day, where they were taught a number of football skills by coaches at the David Beckham Football Academy. They then had the opportunity to put what they had learnt into practice during a tournament. Thanks to sponsorship by Unite the Union, and a generous agreement with the David Beckham Academy, teams were able to participate in the event at no expense.
Craig Mitchell, community psychiatric nurse said, "We had a wonderful trip to London. After a day of sightseeing and an overnight stay in a hotel we arrived at the Academy which is in a wonderful setting on the banks of the river Thames. We played extremely well winning three games, drawing one and not conceding any goals. To our delight, this meant we won our group."
"All five of our service users greatly enjoyed the trip and were extremely proud of their performances. It gave them all a great boost of self esteem and self worth. It was a fantastic achievement and I can honestly say it was the highlight of my nursing career so far to be involved with such a brave and positive group of people that have overcome the odds and achieved so much."
The Trust’s team were made up of local people who take part in a weekly sports group, the Access group, which has been successfully running for several years at Dewsbury Sports centre. Each week between 20-30 people who use mental health services come along to get involved in sport, including squash, badminton, swimming and football.
Craig said, "Many service users have used the group as a stepping stone and confidence builder to join local teams outside mental health services. This underlines the success of our group and shows how sport is integrating people into the local community, which really helps combat the stigma around mental health problems."
Speaking about the event Younas Hussain said, “It was an absolutely brilliant event and the Beckham Academy really looked after us. We overcame some serious obstacles to get here and it was uplifting for us all.”
Ben Moss added, “It was a great opportunity to participate in a major event in London. It’s given us all a real boost.”