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Pioneering Advantage programme helps young people | Arsenal in the Community | News

We are delighted to collaborate with West Ham United and Leyton Orient on Advantage, a new mental health improvement scheme for young people across London. 

Football clubs across London have come together under the umbrella of London United to tackle some of the key issues resulting from COVID-19. 

With increasing evidence that mental health problems are one of the main consequences of the ongoing pandemic, we will work with NHS specialists to develop coordinated support for young people to improve their self-esteem, create a better sense of connection and provide opportunities to get back on track.

The Advantage programme will focus on improving education, employment options and physical activity, to help the youngsters with the transition from lockdown to a ‘new normal’ in a more uncertain world. Within this, football clubs will be able to help provide professional help in a trusted and less formal setting.

“Mental health issues are a very serious consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic,” commented Freddie Hudson, community manager at Arsenal in the Community.

“Many young people have had their lives negatively impacted in recent months and we are proud to be able to use our reach to engage young people and provide them with the support they need.

“It’s critical that we provide our community with a safe place to talk and seek advice, and the Advantage programme will do exactly that. Once young people feel comfortable and become engaged in the programe, we can then help them build confidence and support them in their next steps. 

“Along with West Ham and Leyton Orient, we’re proud to build on the work we’ve done throughout the pandemic through this fantastic programme.”

Young People are initially referred to the local Child and Andolescent Mental Health Services within East London NHS Foundation Trust (Newham and Hackney) or North East London NHS Foundation Trust (Waltham Forest) from school, youth clubs or their GP doctor, and those assessed with mild to moderate mental health need, which has been brought about or worsened because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be invited to join the programme.

From there they will be matched with one of the football clubs’ community foundations; Newham – West Ham, Hackney – Arsenal, Waltham Forest – Leyton Orient. At this point the individual will reveive an initial consultation with a support coach, followed by training and mentoring. They will then be entered into a selected scheme which matches their goals, whether it’s on or off the pitch – receiving consistent support throughout. 

In order to maintain a person-focused approach, initially there will be 30 people taking part with more spaces available as the programme progresses.

We are leading the way with West Ham United and Leyton Orient as the first clubs to deliver this major initiative. We have also partnered with the Apax Foundation and the Royal Free Charity, and are working alongside the East London NHS Foundation Trust and the North East London NHS Foundation Trust to deliver this initiative.

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