Young people helping to tackle poor mental health through Premier League Inspires Challenge

Participants from Blackpool FC Community Trust have joined forces with more than 200 young people from across England and Wales to create a mentally healthy environment at their football clubs and in their communities, as part of this year’s Premier League Inspires Challenge.

The Challenge is one element of the Premier League Inspires programme, which clubs run on a weekly basis to support 11–18-year-olds who may be at risk of not reaching their potential as they move through the education system and early adulthood.

The Premier League Inspires Challenge empowers participants to take on a social action project and make a difference to the world around them.

This season, young people were tasked with raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing in their communities. Blackpool FC Community Trust representatives developed a project to raise money for mental health charity Get Vocal.

They set up a Pre-Match day event for young people aged 5 to 16 to participate in a variety of interactive activities, with all proceeds going to their chosen charity, Get Vocal. This also included a raffle with a variety of prizes, including a signed ball from Blackpool FC players, a family-day Merlin pass, and many more for families to enjoy. The representatives raised a total of £110.37 for Get Vocal, and they were extremely grateful for all of their interactions.

Lilly, one of the representatives, spoke to us about the day and said:

“I was really nervous at the start, but I gained my confidence, and I am really proud of my teammates aswell because we worked really hard on our idea”.

Having come up with their mental health social action ideas, Blackpool FC Community Trust participants joined hundreds of young people at the Premier League Inspires Challenge celebration event at Wembley Stadium on 25th April, where they shared details of their activity with teams of their peers representing 45 clubs from across the Premier League and the English Football League.

The Blackpool FC Community Trust Premier League Inspires Challenge team also explored the positive work Blackpool FC is already doing to support mental health awareness, including their Get Vocal charity, which the representatives had the chance to speak to a key member of the team that helps set up these opportunities they offer to the local community.

This Challenge builds upon the Premier League’s ongoing Inside Matters mental health campaign and the League’s commitment as a signatory of the Mentally Healthy Football Declaration in 2020, which brought together all UK football organisations to help create a mentally healthy environment across the game.

Premier League Charitable Fund Chief Executive, Ruth Shaw OBE, said:

“The Premier League and Premier League Charitable Fund are committed to working with professional football clubs, fans, players, communities, and partners to remind everyone that it is okay not to be okay and that it is vitally important that we keep up the conversation on mental health.

“Through the Premier League Inspires Challenge young people from across England and Wales have developed some brilliant ideas to create positive, mentally healthy environments at their football clubs and in school, at home and in their communities.”

Launched in 2019, Premier League Inspires creates life-changing opportunities for young people who have been identified by their schools as needing extra support to engage with activities, helping them to develop the personal skills and positive attitudes needed to succeed in life.

Using the power of football, the programme helps to prepare young people for further education and employment through a series of face-to-face mentoring sessions, workshops and social-action projects.

The Blackpool FC Community Trust began its Premier League Inspires delivery in 2019-2020 academic year and since then has supported 611 young people through 12000 hours of delivery, collectively, across those years. Eight local mainstream high schools and two Pupil Referral Units have taken part in the programme, at some point, during the lifespan of the programme.

This season, 45 professional football club community organisations across the Premier League and English Football League are delivering Premier League Inspires sessions at their stadiums, in local schools and at alternative educational settings, with partnership support from the Professional Footballers’ Association.

More than 29,000 young people from across England and Wales have received more than 125,000 hours of targeted support through the programme to date.