Coping Through Football is a transformational project that demonstrates how two sporting charities - Leyton Orient Trust and the London Playing Fields Foundation can work with the NHS to produce a sustainable recovery model approach to engage with and improve the wellbeing of adults and young people experiencing mental health issues. 

The project shows how sport can:

• help tackle stigma and discrimination
• can work together with the health sector on shared agendas to reduce inequalities
• be a tool for engagement with hard to reach groups
• assist in the recovery of those with mental ill health

The aim is to use the football experience to get fitter, increase levels of self-esteem and confidence, make new friends and ultimately to help people get their lives back on track. We do not see ourselves as a football project but a social inclusion project that uses football as a tool to engage people who have experienced mental health problems. Most of our players have experienced social exclusion, unemployment, poor physical and mental health and lack a social network or support and Coping Through Football sets out to address these issues.

The project has been extremely successful in helping players to turn their lives around and to live more independently. It has been recognised by the Department of Health as a model of best practice in the recovery of people with long term mental health problems and our goal is to increase the number of people who benefit.

We have had many success stories, our players attend the project for a variety of reasons and want to achieve a variety of goals depending on the individual. Most want to improve their fitness and health, make more friends, improve their football skills or achieve a vocational goal.

How do I get involved?

There is a short referral form to complete which can be downloaded from this link.  This can be completed by a health care worker involved in your care and if you do not have one please contact Sonia Smith for further information on 07538 101450. There is no waiting list or cost involved so providing that you have no current health risks, you can start attending as soon as you have been assessed.

We accept referrals from within Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest primary and secondary mental health and drug and alcohol services.

If you do not want to start playing in the session straight away you can come and watch, socialise or attend our social activities such as going to watch Leyton Orient FC matches.

When and where do sessions take place?

Sessions currently run on a weekly basis at the following venues in Waltham Forest and Redbridge. 

Douglas Eyre Sports Centre, Coppermill Lane, Walthamstow

Fairlop Oak Playing Field, Forest Road, Hainault, Ilford, Essex

Score Centre, 100 Oliver Road, Leyton

For up to date session times or further information, please visit the coping through football website:



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