Thursday, 22 July 2021

Lockdown, Sport and Mental Health

 On the 19th of July, we reached the 4th step of the Roadmap out of lockdown, which the Prime Minister laid out back in February. This is a cautious, but considerable step forward toward normality. While we may not fully understand both the physical and economic impacts of lockdown for some time, it is clear that spending months locked inside being unable to socialise and relax properly puts an added strain on our mental health.

Young people, in particular, have been severely impacted by the lockdown restrictions since the start of the pandemic. The decision to close schools earlier in the year did not just have the obvious effects around disruption to exams and teaching.  It is much more profound than that.  Children in both primary schools and secondary have been separated from friends.  Children’s birthday parties can’t happen as they normally would and should.  School sports events are not happening.  We humans are social creatures.  Friendships and the company of others are important.  Forming those bonds and friendships is a really important part of growing up, whether it is in the formative early years as children start their first years as infants at primary school, or whether it is in those tricky teenage years as young people wrestle with all the insecurities and concerns that accompany that stage of life.

Recently, the Government’s Mental Health in Education Action Group committed to making mental health and wellbeing a central part of education recovery plans in education settings across England. Since its launch earlier this year, members of the group have taken feedback on areas to improve support for pupils and students as well as staff working in all areas of education, reflecting on the main challenges facing them including the increase in eating disorders and self-harm among young people and how to help staff manage their own mental wellbeing. 

In practice, this means the Government has committed £7 million for the Department for Education’s Wellbeing for Education Recovery programme, to facilitate training and resources for staff in schools and colleges. We have also created resources for students in higher education, collating the guidance, tools, and services available to support their mental health, raising awareness of the support available and empowering individuals to seek help.

In addition to this, I welcome the launch of The Terry Pryor Trust that will be taking place on August 21st. The Trust’s purpose is to provide opportunities for young people in the Redruth community and beyond to participate in and benefit from the social, physical and developmental aspects of rugby union. Terry’s contribution to not only Redruth Rugby club in particular, but also to Cornish rugby, in general, was substantial. He had a career spanning over 50 years as a player and coach making 55 appearances for Cornwall.

Sadly, Terry Pryor passed away in March 2020 leaving a huge hole in our community. However, because of Covid restrictions, it was not possible to properly plan and recognise his achievements in the game, until now. On Saturday, August 21st Redruth RFC will be hosting ‘The Terry Pryor Day’, which will include a Redruth versus Cornish Pirates training game that will get underway at 3pm. Admission to the Recreation Ground will cost £10 and 50% of gate money will go to The Terry Pryor Trust and support young people’s mental health. I am certain it will be a great day and a fitting tribute to a remarkable sportsman. 

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