Minds United is a club set in West London, who specialise in supporting players, coaches and volunteers who have lived experience of mental health problems and/or substance misuse. The club was established in 2019, with just 7 players attending the first of what have become many regular training sessions. The need for such a club in the community is evident, in 1 short year they have grown from that initial 7 players, and 1 weekly training session, to them now welcoming over 70 players to one or more of their 3 weekly sessions.
The club got involved in the 2019/20 season of the Middlesex FA North West London Mental Health Football League, playing fixtures once a month throughout the season against other teams comprising of players who have varying levels of mental health problems. As part of their ongoing growth the club have seen a rise in participants, such that they now have been able to enter 3 teams into the 2020/2021 season of the NWL Mental Health Football League.
The club, supported by an array of volunteers, including Tarik Kaidi, head coach, and founder of Minds United who also won the Middlesex FA Grassroots Football Award for Grassroots Coach of the Year (Adults) in 2020. With Tarik and his team of volunteers the club are going from strength to strength and hope to continue their upward growth.
The club works hard to impact their community, with links to an array of NHS and Royal Borough of Kesington and Chelsea Council they have a strong base in their target community, and aim to provide a service that is there to benefit their local community, providing a positive, safe and inclusive environment to players who may not have the confidence to play elsewhere.
The club are one of our latest to receive their Charter Standard accreditation, having only received this shortly before lockdown in March 2020. On being an FA Charter Standard club, they said, “In March 2020 we were accredited as an FA Charter Standard Club. This accreditation demonstrates that we run well-led and sustainable football. We prioritise qualified coaching, safeguarding, as well as the values of The FA’s Respect programme. Having the standards that our club operates at held to The FA’s Charter Standard means that we can offer a safe, fun and inclusive environment for our players.”
On being nominated for the award, the Club Secretary said, “Winning Charter Standard Club of the month would validate and recognise the hard work our directors, coaches and volunteers have put into the club and local community. Our club was founded due to the poor provision of mental health services in the local area. We are the only grassroots mental health football club in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea. In the 16 months that we have been established we have grown tremendously.”
“Much of our time operating has been through the Covid-19 pandemic. This has presented us with many challenges but also made us more vital to our community. The impact that reduced social contact and isolation has on mental health cannot be understated. There is substantial evidence to show the positive effect exercise and social environments have on improving mental health. During the Covid-19 pandemic when we were unable to train, we held remote daily socials. These included a community leadership programme, football drills and cookery.”
“Additionally, we received funding to give our disadvantaged players smart phones to enable them to engage with remote activities and stay in contact with their families.”
“Since restarting our face-to-face training sessions we have been able to commence our work with the Grenfell Projects Fund, enabling us to offer vital well-being services to those affected by the Grenfell tragedy.”
“Winning this award would be a proud moment for Minds United. We are run by and for those with a lived experience of mental health problems and/or substance misuse issues. The award would re-enforce our commitment to working to the highest standards for our players and our community.”
Minds United want to grow the game in London by providing fun, friendly, and free football sessions for adults with mental health problems and/or substance misuse issues. They have a strong player development programme and have received funding to run an employment programme. This programme will put 15 residents of RBKC on coaching and refereeing courses.
The club are always looking for players, working to a ‘no trials, everyone plays’ philosophy then please get in touch with them, sessions run 3 times a week on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, you can book through The FA Just Play! or email them for more information.
They are always look for volunteers so if this is something that would interest you please get in touch with them.
To find out more about the club check in on their website, Twitter or Instagram.
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