10th October 2019, 11:43 | rl_cares
Rugby League Cares is delighted to announce it has secured funding to deliver the charity’s successful men's health and wellbeing project, Offload for a further two years.
Offload has already transformed the lives of over 1,000 men in the North West of England since its launch in April 2017 and the new funding from the National Lottery Community Fund will build on those achievements.
Delivered at three professional Rugby League clubs, Warrington Wolves, Salford Red Devils and Widnes Vikings, Offload involves men learning the techniques that Rugby League clubs use to manage the mental and physical fitness of players.
Staged over 10 weeks, Offload 'fixtures' are delivered by former players and officials and allow men to build their own mental fitness, develop coping strategies to challenge difficult situations and learn how to recognise when people close to them might need their support.
Chris Rostron, the Head of RL Cares, said: "This is terrific news, both for the charity and for men across the North West who now have the opportunity to engage with our hugely successful Offload programme.
"Some of the feedback we have received from many of the men involved in Offload over the last two years has been little short of remarkable: Offload is not only changing lives for the better, it's saving them as well.
"Good mental health is really important for all of us but for men, in particular, it can be difficult to seek help or advice when things go wrong.
"Offload breaks down those barriers and empowers participants to take care of their own mental wellbeing and empowers them with the tools they need to reach out to others.
"I would like to thank the three club foundations for the commitment they have shown to making Offload such an overwhelming success."
An independent evaluation of Offload has been conducted by researchers at Edge Hill University and reveals that participation brought about increased confidence and self-esteem, improved social and emotional connections, reduced substance abuse, an increase in physical activity and enhanced working and personal relationships.
The evaluation also revealed that after taking part in Offload:
The Edge Hill research team was led by Professor Andy Smith, who said: "We were delighted to undertake research which will positively impact on the mental health of men from some of the most disadvantaged communities in North West England.
"We worked with the clubs and delivery staff from State of Mind Sport to design ways of effectively engaging men taking part in Offload, and to allow them to develop positive ways of coping with the mental health challenges they experience.
"How many men revealed to us that the programme has literally saved their life is quite humbling and is testimony to the hard work of everyone involved."
One participant said: "I can honestly say Offload saved my life. That night that I went to Offload for the very first time, I was planning to do it [attempt to take my own life] again, so I can’t sing its praises enough to be honest. I wouldn’t be here without it."
Another Offload squad member said: "I used to just turn to drugs and alcohol. That’s what I used to do every weekend, most nights, but now I don’t. Every time I feel down, I do something else that keeps me going, like exercise."
Developed and delivered with the help of State of Mind and other agencies, Offload fixtures are free to attend and open to all men aged 18 and over.
For more information on Offload please visit rugbyleaguecares.org.