Supporting NUF's 'Be A Game Changer' Program
What Work does NUF do?
The Newcastle United Foundation connects Newcastle United Football Club to its local community. Through NUF the club runs a number of programs, projects and initiatives, like the game changer campaign, which are designed to build relationships with local communities, and improve those communities in various ways. The foundation also helps everyone to overcome challenges and achieve success regardless of age, gender or background. In particular, the ‘Be A Game Changer’ campaign aims to change the status quo when it comes to mental health, encouraging people to discuss any problems they have in their life.
Many NUF Programs do include football or team-related activities but not all of them – some are focused on using sport as a mechanism for change in other areas such as health education and well-being promotion, disability support and employment opportunities.
Newcastle United Foundation programs have been delivering positive impact across the North East since 2006, by improving lives through their work with people facing difficulties from all walks of life. Examples of the people NUF helps include young people who may be experiencing difficulties at home or school (or both), adults who are looking for help into employment, or getting back into work if they have recently become unemployed. These services also include adults with disabilities who need support finding work after being out of work for some time.
NUF's charitable and community supporting services will continue over the coming years as part of their commitment to helping people across the North East overcome challenges and reach their full potential regardless of age, gender, background, health condition or circumstances.
About the 'Be A Game Changer' program
As mentioned above, the 'Be A Game Changer' program addresses mental health and encourages people to talk about it openly. This can be difficult for some people who are struggling with a mental health problem, and particularly men, who may feel that talking about their feelings would be seen as weakness or failure. By encouraging men to talk about their feelings and providing them with support from others who are experiencing similar things, the 'Be A Game Changer' program seeks to shift this perception and take away that stigma.
The game changer program accomplishes this by raising awareness in various ways. Thousands of mental health support cards are distributed at NUFC home games each season; and these cards include information on how to contact NUF's 24/7 helpline if you're experiencing difficulties. They also contain advice on where you can find support locally. They have been distributed since 2012, and so far over 320,000 cards have been handed out!
The program also has a Facebook group with over 3,000 members where people can find support amongst peers. This is a private space where only members of the group can see posts; it's not open to the general public. As a result of this support and other activities, 89% of those supported by the program feel less isolated than before.
The story behind D-ROCK's involvement
Studies have shown that talking about our problems is one of the biggest factors in suicide prevention. With the suicide rate in young men being the highest compared to other demographics, the game changing work NUFC are doing is more important than ever. There are always hopes for the future, and there is always someone to listen if you are struggling.
While Rumni's experience really brought home to us how important it is to look after your mental health and recognise when something's not right there, it also gave him an opportunity to give back - for himself and the company - in supporting the work of the Newcastle United Foundation, and in particular their 'Be A Game Changer' program, which is specifically aimed at mental health. Being involved with the program as game changers means the D-ROCK team can share our first hand experience around mental health with people who may truly benefit from hearing about our experiences, and we're hopeful that hearing about what worked for one of our own may encourage others to get help themselves if they need to.
Like NUF, we understand the importance of talking when you're feeling like you're having problems and how it can lift the weight off your shoulders, and so as game changers we also want to do our bit to remove that stigma that many people experience when needing to talk about how they feel. We know that stigma is there, we've felt it ourselves - but trust us - talking about mental health and admitting when there are problems isn't a weakness, it's one of your greatest strengths.