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Mental health club positively impacts Chelmsford residents

With You In Mind At Chelmsford Sport And Athletics Centre

With You In Mind provides social activity sessions for adults to support their wellbeing, by combating isolation and improving confidence, physical health and mental health.

The programme was initially launched to support those struggling to return to a ‘new normal’ after lockdowns. It has been so well received that not only has it continued, but new sessions are being added.

An inclusive mental health club

Sessions are held at Chelmsford Sport and Athletics Centre (CSAC) multiple times a week and are equally focused on using sport as an outlet and creating opportunities to meet new people. Activities range from badminton to mindful colouring, so there really is something for everyone!

The sessions are lead by coaches who are trained in Mental Health First Aid, meaning they can always signpost further services that could be helpful.

Sport and socialising in a welcoming environment

Physical activity can be hugely beneficial to those struggling with their mental health, and With You In Mind sessions regularly include table tennis, badminton, and group exercise classes in CSAC’s studio.

Another great way to benefit your mental health is by socializing. At With You In Mind, participants play board games, go for group walks, and the coaches are always available for a cuppa and a chat.

The main aim of With You In Mind is to help participants build their confidence. All of the coaches are very welcoming and participants understand that some people find it easier to take part than others; there is no pressure to join in with any activities you don’t want to.

There’s also no obligation to attend regularly. Whether you join three times a week or once in a blue moon is entirely up to you!

Councillor Natacha Dudley, Cabinet Member for an Active Chelmsford, says the popularity of the club is a testament to the impact it has on those attending.

“It’s wonderful to see so many residents benefitting from this mental health club and returning week after week. The friendships that are built during these sessions really are life changing and go to show how much community means to people.”

Councillor Natacha Dudley, Cabinet Member for an Active Chelmsford

What do participants think?

One of the coaches describes With You In Mind as a social, inclusive, wellbeing hub. The versatility of the club’s activities means that it can function as a take-what-you-need service.

“It’s a very friendly group, and you’re not judged because you have struggles in life. I’ve made some good friends here. I enjoy playing card games and a bit of badminton… and we can have a one-to-one chat if we’re feeling particularly down on one day. It’s a really nice, friendly environment [and] I feel safe here.”

Jacqui, With You In Mind participant

“Though I was initially nervous about attending the With You In Mind group, I felt welcomed and accepted soon enough. The group has given me an enjoyable outlet following a long time of isolation; whether I am playing badminton, having a coffee and a chat or beating Tom at Dobble. Other aspects I like about the group is that we are able to suggest activities, there are the occasional classes offered and it has been an opportunity to meet new people.”

Tom, With You In Mind participant

One-off activity sessions

As well as offering flexibility in the regular sessions, with participants letting the coaches know which activities they’d like to do, With You In Mind also offer special sessions from time to time. Among the most popular events are therapy dog sessions.

A Close Up Of A Dog Who Is Sitting On Someone's Lap

There are three therapy dog sessions scheduled for 2023: 13 October, 10 November, and 8 December.

Another special session coming up soon is a self-defence class, which will be held on Thursday 12 October.

Whether you attend regular With You In Mind sessions or not, you are welcome to come along. We do recommend booking your place, as the team is expecting a high turnout!

How do I attend?

With You In Mind sessions are open to anyone over the age of 16.

Regular sessions are held from 2pm to 4pm, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Chelmsford Sport and Athletics Centre (Salerno Way, CM1 2EH). There is no need to book but if you would like to, or you want more information, please call our Wellbeing team on 01245 606569 or email withyouinmind@chelmsford.gov.uk

The first session is free, and subsequent sessions cost £3 per person.

Other services available in your district

If With You In Mind doesn’t sound quite right for you, there are other services available. For example, if you’d like to spend time outdoors, you can attend gardening sessions by volunteering with our parks department.

You could sign up for On Your Team, a weekly group sport session.

The Crown Pub in Sandon run monthly mental health coffee mornings, which are free to attend and include extra activities such as gardening.

Or, you can suggest other activities you would like to see included in the With You In Mind programme! Just reach out to the team at withyouinmind@chelmsford.gov.uk

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Molly Smith
Molly Smith

Molly writes stories about public health, community safety, leisure, community sport, parking and Chelmsford Market.