Mental Health Football in Wales - Walk for Wellbeing

On Friday 15th October, 2 Newport women with experience of poor mental health will carry out a huge challenge by walking 58 miles from Newport to Swansea, stopping off at Newport County, Cardiff City FC and finishing at Swansea City FC.

The aim of the walk is to raise funds for Mental Health Football in Wales (MHFW) and -perhaps more importantly - to help raise awareness of poor mental health and suicide.

Bethan Shannon Clayton 26 and Claire Rogers 32, both of Newport, said “During lockdown we decided to walk from Newport to Swansea to raise vital funds for a charity that means so much to us. We have both been affected by mental ill health ourselves, and MHFW has helped us build friendships and get through some difficult times”.

Bethan and Claire added, “We lost a very close friend, Geraint, who took his own life in 2020 and raising funds for a charity that has set up a legacy fund in his name means the world. We couldn't think of anyone better to be doing this challenge with as each other, since we've been friends for many years and have been through many challenges together. We always have each other by our sides when it matters most and we’re going to need that friendship and support to complete this.”

Keri Harris, Project Manager for MHFW says “When Beth and Claire approached me with the initial idea I thought there was no way this could be done in the timeframe they wanted but I was impressed by their determination and the reasons for wanting to do it. I know for certain that these 2 will never give up!”

Keri also explained “Beth and Claire have thought it through completely, Newport Civil 3G have been a huge supporter of our work and recently hosted our 1st ever Mental Health Wellbeing tournament, Beth is a Newport County fan, Claire a Cardiff City fan and Geraint was a big Swansea City fan so the walk ticks all the boxes and it would be great if the clubs support them in some small way”.

MHFW is a Registered Charity established in May 2020 as a direct response to an increased need for connection and support due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

We exist for people whose everyday lives have been disrupted by living with mental health problems, with the aim of overcoming barriers to isolation, loneliness and stigma through offering a safe and positive environment on-line and in person.

Throughout the pandemic there has been a timetable of daily online activities, including evenings and weekends. We also opened a ‘virtual clubhouse’ which has been open every day, for people to ‘pop in’ and chat.

We have a team of volunteers involved in planning / delivering activities, all of whom have completed a number of training courses relevant to their volunteer roles. Whenever lockdown measures have been lifted to allow ‘in person’ activity, we have delivered weekly ‘Football for Wellbeing’ sessions, and we hosted our first Tournament at the end of July.

We run a weekly Fun Football Wellbeing sessions every Tuesday at 4:30pm in Newport and every Wednesday at 4pm in Swansea which are specifically aimed at people affected by mental health issues. Our sessions are non-competitive, suitable for all abilities, and are aimed at everyone leaving with a smile on their face.