Project to link health and sport providers

Sally and Gordon Allan pictured during a woodland walk at Belsay Hall.
Sally and Gordon Allan pictured during a woodland walk at Belsay Hall.

A Ponteland man is hoping that funding can be secured so a mental health project that he has initiated can get up-and-running.

The vision of Gordon Allan, whose wife Sally died as the result of a private battle with mental illness, is for a link to be established between organisations and clubs to improve the well-being, recovery and resilience of individuals through sports and physical activity.

By developing volunteers who are trained to understand and support people with mental health issues, they will be able to encourage people to take that initial first step to active participation.

In order to make this project happen, an application has been made to Sport England under the Volunteering Opportunity Fund for a grant of £50,000 a year, for three years, to cover the cost of a project officer.

It would start in Alnwick and Hexham, but it is hoped that it would eventually cover the whole of Northumberland.

Sally Allan, who was a learning support assistant at Gateshead Stadium, went missing on Boxing Day in 2015. Her body was recovered from water near South Shields on February 3, 2016.

Gordon said: “Walking helped me whilst I was dealing with the loss of Sally and then thinking of people with mental health issues, I did some research and found that there is a gap when it comes to health and activity providers working together to get them involved in sport or other physical activity, which helps to improve their self confidence.

“After discussions with various organisations over many months, we have reached a stage where a final application proposal will soon be considered by Sport England.

“The charity Mental Health Matters would recruit a group of volunteers, who would work alongside organisations providing mental health services in Northumberland to support and help individuals overcome the many barriers to participation.

“The second group of volunteers would be new or existing members of groups or sports clubs who would provide the individuals with on-going support. They would be trained by Tyneside and Northumberland Mind and liaise with Active Northumberland.”

For more information about the project, email Victoria Brady – vbrady@activenorthumberland.org.uk