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Sunderland launch mental health hub

Sunderland AFC have become one of the first clubs in England and Wales to offer mental health support on matchdays, working with supporters to deliver the new service.

The club’s official charity, the Foundation of Light, and the supporter-led Branch Liaison Council have created the Mental Health Matchday Hub to provide a walk-in facility before home games for supporters seeking help.

Operating at the club’s Beacon of Light, the service will run from 11.45am to 2.45pm on matchdays – and offers a range of advice and support to Sunderland fans.

Branch Liaison Council secretary Cath Reid said: “Sadly, we have lost members to suicide and as a group we wanted to do something to help support our fellow fans suffering from mental health issues.

“We also wanted to help equip our branch organisers to help identify members who may be struggling.”

The service was unveiled last month by former-Sunderland captains Kevin Ball and Gary Bennett alongside former-player Kieron Brady.

Local charity Washington Mind helped develop the service with the club and supporters – the charity provide two trained counsellors to staff the service on matchdays.

“The Hub is there to provide the resources where fans can come along and speak to a qualified counsellor in complete confidence,” said Cath. “While at the same time helping to equip our volunteers with the confidence to ask people how they’re feeling, reminding them not to be afraid of asking for help.”

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