Published on 07 September 2021

Ormiston Families delivers mental health training at North Walsham Town FC

7th September 2021 is Youth Mental Health Day in the UK, a day that encourages understanding and awareness of mental health in young people. The Link, Ormiston Families’ project which provides advice, support and training to adults who work with children and young people aged 0-18 across Norfolk and Waveney, recently visited North Walsham Town FC to deliver training to club volunteers to help them better support children with mental health issues.

More than 20 volunteers from the club attended the mental health champion session, delivered by Ormiston Families alongside Active Norfolk. The training aimed to help the volunteers to recognise mental health issues in the children they work with, and to show them how to best direct these young people to the specialist support they need.

We recently caught up with The Link’s Holly Dowsing and Deanna Smith and trainee Children’s Wellbeing Practitioner Alex Rennie about the success of their training session.

What did you feel the club’s volunteers took away from the session?

We felt that the participants grew in confidence as the session went on, with discussions becoming more lively as the day continued. 60% of people felt much more confident after the session and the remaining 40% felt quite a bit more confident. Normalising mental health difficulties was a big topic too, for the children and young people, but also for themselves. We noticed an increased confidence in the support available from external services across Norfolk & Waveney. We noticed an increased confidence in having conversations around mental health, including what to say and how to respond. Finally, feedback from participants suggested that it was also reassuring to know that what they were already doing to support children and young people was good practice.

Were there any specific issues that participants raised that you felt you were able to resolve during the session?

Participants were seeking support with safeguarding concerns, so we asked the club’s welfare officer to remind coaches of safeguarding procedures and reassured participants that safeguarding support is available through training via the local safeguarding board. Participants had questions about self-harm prevalence nowadays, so we discussed that it is higher in Norfolk according to the local transformation plan and we discussed the different ways that self-harm can look. We also talked about support via alternative coping strategies, including self-help using apps.

Why do you feel it is particularly important that these coaches receive such training?

Sports coaches have a unique relationship with children and young people, compared to other adults like teachers and GPs. Children and young people choose to go to football and build really positive, trusting relationships with their coaches. Football clubs offer so much support to the community, so we want them to feel supported in helping with emotional wellbeing. We wanted to make sure that the coaches feel supported, confident and knowledgeable – especially when it comes to the external services available and how to access them. We also want to thank them for the work they do in building positive, protective environments that really support the emotional wellbeing of children and young people.

Participants were really engaged – considering we asked them to give up 3 hours of their Saturday morning! The club was really welcoming, clearly a valuable hub for the local community and we were so impressed by the support that the club already offer to children, young people and families.

“Thank you very much. Training was well delivered and on such an important subject. I have had to deal with issues in the past and did not know where to go, now I will have a clearer picture and be able to offer better support.” – volunteer, North Walsham Town FC

For more information on Ormiston Families’ mental health support services for children and young people, click here.