Impact Study: Levi Lloyd, Chester FC Wellbeing session
Chester FC Mental Health & Wellbeing sessions provide weekly football training at Northgate Arena.
The project helps to reduce the social isolation that people with mental health issues can often experience, offering them the opportunity to make friends and keep fit in a safe environment.
Participants are able to talk about their problems without stigma, seek advice and access additional support.
Levi Lloyd has been involved with the project from the beginning and is responsible for managing the team and running the session.
The project initially ran to support homeless people but now operates as a mental health/disability session.
Levi works for ForFutures, who help support the session by providing funding for the facility hire.
"We have people with all sorts of disabilities, all different levels of learning disabilities," Levi said. "The sessions are about coming along and enjoying football.
"I strongly believe that football is a great tool for engagement no matter what you have going on in your life.
"We encourage players to forget about their issues for an hour and switch off. We also offer players the opportunity to play in the Cheshire Ability Counts League, so it is a great pathway for anyone who wants to play football."
Evidence shows that regular exercise is beneficial for mental health and well-being, it helps to reduce stress and anxiety, increase self-esteem and reduce risk of depression.
A team representing Chester FC competes in the Ability Counts League, with participants invited to attend matches as a reward for their involvement in the project.
Furthermore, the Chester FC Community Trust won Best Health Project at the 2018 National League Trust Community Awards.
Dave Yardley, who is also involved with the session on a weekly basis, said: "Levi is a great communicator; participants know that he is there for them when they come to the sessions.
"He makes them feel safe, included and supported. Participants arrive as people with struggles and leave as football champions.”