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Game changer

Transforming lives through football

Transforming lives through football

Frustrated that his mentally ill brother’s needs were not being properly met, sports coach and youth worker Mark Peters decided to do something about it. He created Start Again, a project that uses football sessions to address the lack of support available to young people suffering from mental health issues.

Common goals

“My foster brother was sectioned in his early 20s, but was getting very little support,” explains Mark Peters, founder of Start Again. “So I started taking him to music sessions at the hospital and immediately I noticed a considerable difference.

“The benefits of football are huge; it encourages team building and is great for health and fitness. And there’s the added bonus that it is very accessible – anyone can play.”

Mark Peters, founder, Start Again

Buoyed by the positive impact music therapy had on his brother, Mark decided to do something similar. But instead of music, Mark – a former apprentice at Aston Villa – planned to draw on his background sport and use football as an engagement tool.


“The benefits of football are huge; it encourages team building and is great for health and fitness. And there’s the added bonus that it is very accessible – anyone can play.”

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Mark contacted the Street League– an organisation using football to help disadvantaged people get into work, education and training; they gave him help and advice on how to set up Start Again.

“We now run three of four sessions each day for people from all kinds of backgrounds. They provide access to a structured, safe and enabling environment that uses football as a hook into a wide range of developmental services.”

Home game

Wanting to take Start Again a stage further, Mark then looked to housing – a real issue for many of the young people he worked with.

“The housing in the area was either unavailable or too expensive; I wanted to help these vulnerable youngsters find suitable and affordable accommodation,” said Mark.

Mark managed to get lottery funding for a supported house. This was a great success and the project now also has a range of affordable properties for rent; a recent loan from Triodos Bank has funded a second supported house.

“What we do works,” says Mark. “75% of those who’ve taken part in our sessions are now in further education or employment, in fact, four of our current employees came from our programme.”

Mark Peters, founder, Start Again

Mark is now looking to increase the accommodation available and add more football sessions to his programme including female only sessions.

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“What we do works,” says Mark, “; 75% of those who’ve taken part in our sessions are now in further education or employment, in fact, four of our current employees came from our programme.

“Many also come back to Start Again to volunteer which is great for their own personal development, and also sets a fantastic example to those we are currently working with. It shows them what they can achieve.”

www.start-again.co.uk

Project CV
Start Again

Start-Again is a Community Interest Company set up to help support the housing and social needs of young people living with mental illness.

Founded in North Birmingham in 2008, Start Again’s mission is to understand, encourage and empower mentally ill and homeless 13 to 30 year olds in their search for a better life. By providing accommodation and using football sessions, mentoring, and one to one support, Start Again enables young people to develop personally and socially so that they can lead fuller lives within their communities

 

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