As part of World Mental Health Day (10 October 2018) Leyton Orient Football Club hosted a Mental Health Awareness Match Day. It took place at the sell-out match against Hartlepool at The Breyer Group Stadium on Saturday 13 October 2018.
Alzheimer’s Society and Time to Change representatives were invited to join the day to raise awareness of mental health issues and their respective campaigns. Service users from Coping Through Football (a programme run in partnership by London Playing Fields, NELFT and Leyton Orient Trust) were also invited to take part in the day.
Before the match, 50 stadium stewards took part in an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends Information Session. The session provided information about what people living with dementia experience and how they can be supported. One steward commented how helpful it was, as his grandfather has recently been diagnosed with dementia, and the session gave him some useful tools to support his family and Grandfather.
Representatives from Time to Change used the opportunity for their Champions to share information and speak to fans about their work to end mental health discrimination and encourage others to become Champions. Time to change delivered in partnership with Champions, Waltham Forest Council, CREST and other partners in Waltham Forest, is a campaign to challenge negative attitudes towards mental health problems.
Those with dementia, their carers; service users from Coping Through Football; Alzheimer’s Society and Time To Change Champions were all part of the guard of honour flag parade around the pitch before kick-off.
Joe Akram, Alzheimer’s Society Service Manager for Waltham Forest said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to Leyton Orient for inviting us and our service users to their mental health awareness match. It’s great to be able to work with a community club to help raise awareness of dementia. Isolation and loneliness can be a major problem for people with dementia and those who care for and support them. We want to encourage people to continue to do the things they love even after a diagnosis of dementia, including watching their local football team play live at the stadium.”
Chris O’Sullivan, coordinator for Time to Change Waltham Forest said: ‘It was great fun to be part of all the activities that took place for World Mental Health Day in Waltham Forest and to partner with Leyton Orient to promote Time to Change to speak to people attending the match day about the Time to Change campaign and champions. Champions will be supported, trained and funded to facilitate conversations and events challenging negative attitudes towards mental health. It’s important that we have as many people and organisations involved in making a difference in Waltham Forest”