Andy Burnham's praise for Wigan group's mental health work

The Mayor of Greater Manchester has paid a visit to sporty members of a mental health initiative with a difference.

Andy Burnham attended a session at Place 2 Place FC, which uses five-a-side football as a casual way to start conversations about mental health issues.

A keen player himself, Mr Burnham spoke to players about the project and mental health and football more generally.

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He also inducted Chris Shaw, Alan Rotheram and Liam Winrow into Place 2 Place’s Hall of Fame for their outstanding contributions during the pandemic.

Andy Burnham, left with Peter HillAndy Burnham, left with Peter Hill
Andy Burnham, left with Peter Hill

Founder Peter Hill, from Beech Hill, said: “I invited Mr Burnham down last year but he was unable to attend so he kindly stuck to his word and rearranged when he could.

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“We challenged these three individuals to come forward and lead the Wigan session and over the last period they have been outstanding.

“I personally took it as an opportunity to discuss mental health in high schools and where I thought there to be a gap.

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“Prevention needs to be the priority as often by the time folk reach Place 2 Place lots of things have already happened.

“We need to be looking at mental health and education around mental well-being at a much earlier age.

“We teach physical health as a priority but why not mental health and well-being.

“Particularly coming out of the pandemic I asked the mayor if this is a conversation we can open up more.

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“He suggested that there’s a wider conversation we can have around that and communication between us would continue.”

Mr Burnham was also presented with a Place 2 Place jacket and gave a small speech in which he was full of praise for Place 2 Place’s work in tackling mental health issues.

Peter added: “Unprompted, my 12-year-old suggested this week as part of his school council meetings, that they should have more mental health lessons in schools,

“I brought that to the mayor’s attention with the point ‘why are we leaving it to the 12-year-olds?’ Let’s move it forward,

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“He seemed positive and open to some future conversations around the subject.”

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