Of­fload project em­pow­ers Fid­dlers Ferry staff

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - In Business -

LAST month the Of­fload pro­gramme, sup­ported by Widnes Vik­ings, cel­e­brated its one-year an­niver­sary.

The ac­claimed pro­gramme sees play­ers, coaches and ref­er­ees past and present work with peo­ple from across the Widnes area to im­prove their men­tal well­be­ing.

Of­fload went on the road to a lo­cal busi­ness for the first time re­cently, trav­el­ling to Fid­dlers Ferry Power Sta­tion in Cuerd­ley to de­liver a ses­sion led by for­mer Su­per League match of­fi­cial Ian Smith.

Sean Mel­lor, Of­fload pro­gramme co-or­di­na­tor for the Vik­ings, com­mended the en­thu­si­asm of Fid­dlers Ferry and said he was de­lighted by the num­ber of peo­ple who turned up.

“We were ap­proached by Scot­tish And South­ern Elec­tric­ity (SSE) who run Fid­dlers Ferry Power Sta­tion,” Sean says.

“They wanted, like a lot of proac­tive em­ploy­ers at the mo­ment, to do some­thing for their em­ploy­ees around men’s men­tal health and had be­come aware of Of­fload.

“It was great and, to be fair, they (those who at­tended) all vol­un­teered.

“It wasn’t com­pul­sory, so good on SSE for re­ally try­ing to push it.

“They didn’t have to go; there was no pres­sure put on, so the fact that 80 peo­ple over three ses­sions wanted to know how they could im­prove their men­tal health is tes­ta­ment to the weight that peo­ple are giv­ing to this very im­por­tant ac­tiv­ity.

“I think it’s vi­tal (that peo­ple feel com­fort­able).

“To be fair, walk­ing through a door with a load of peo­ple who might be strangers and you’ve never re­ally spo­ken to about se­ri­ous is­sues and how you’re feel­ing takes a lot of courage.

“Any­thing we can do to make that jour­ney more com­fort­able, like feel­ing at ease with your sur­round­ings, maybe hav­ing a tea or cof­fee and be­ing greeted with a smile, we will of­fer.”

Any­one who is un­sure about at­tend­ing the Of­fload ses­sions are urged to get in­volved; the pro­gramme has been de­scribed as ‘life-chang­ing’ by past at­ten­dees.

A knowledge of rugby league isn’t needed for the pro­gramme and, as Sean ex­plains, the ses­sions are de­liv­ered in a fun and in­ter­ac­tive man­ner.

“Hu­mour forms a big part of it; it isn’t de­liv­ered in an un­der­taker-style,” he says.

“There are a few jokes and a few laughs, just to make peo­ple feel at ease. ●

“But, the peo­ple who come to us from the State of Mind pro­gramme (a char­ity as­so­ci­ated with rugby league) and de­liver the ses­sions are very aware, be­cause of where they’ve been.

“They’ve all been in dark places, and deep down, they know it is a very se­ri­ous is­sue.

“We have our reg­u­lar Tues­day night ses­sion which we call an ‘open ses­sion’; peo­ple come from all over and walk into the sta­dium and straight into the class­room.

“We want to get as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble talk­ing so we would urge peo­ple to come down and see for them­selves how big of an im­pact the Of­fload pro­gramme could have.”

Of­fload is be­ing de­liv­ered in part­ner­ship with the in­de­pen­dent char­ity Rugby League Cares.

For more in­for­ma­tion call 0151 495 2250 (op­tion 4) or email seanm@wid­nesvikings. co.uk.

Fid­dlers Ferry power sta­tion staff have ben­e­fited from Vik­ings’ men­tal health and well­be­ing pro­gramme

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