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Mental Health Hospital teams up with Crawley Town Football Club to promote physical fitness

Mental health patients given a new ‘goal’ to improve their physical fitness.



A mental health hospital in Crawley has joined forces with Crawley Town Football Club to help promote patients’ physical health and wellbeing

Weekly football training sessions are hosted at Langley Green Hospital courtesy of Crawley Town FC’s Community Foundation. The hospital is run by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides specialist mental health and learning disability services for all ages in Sussex as well as mental health services for young people in Hampshire.

The sessions, which have been running since summer 2017, offer patients of any age and footballing ability the chance to learn new skills and have fun whilst getting some all-important exercise.

In return, staff, including Occupational Therapist Steven Rowley who set up the initiative, provided mental health awareness training to all of the coaches at the club.

Steven said: “It’s really important that people have access to a range of activities to help keep their bodies active during their time in hospital. When someone is struggling with their mental health it can be really easy to focus on that alone, but we all know that the mind and body are intrinsically linked, so we have to make sure we’re looking after both aspects of a person’s wellbeing during their stay.

“Exercise needs to be fun and that’s why these sessions are so popular. Even people who’ve never played football before come away with a smile on their face. And the great thing is that the sessions don’t stop once someone is well enough to return home. Crawley Town FC host community sessions one afternoon a week, which are preceded by employment skills sessions where people can get advice on things like writing a CV and searching for work. Combining the two is really helping to support people’s recovery and integration back into their local community.”

The patients are put through their paces at the weekly sessions by Community Foundation Co-ordinator, Adam Wicking.

Adam said: “The sessions provide a bit of relief and respite for service users. It’s great to have a space for enjoyable exercise and to interact without talking, if people prefer.

“I really love working with and meeting so many different people. I have such interesting conversations when running these groups and look forward to the sessions.”

A patient who regularly attends the sessions said: “It is fantastic having football here at the hospital. It is a good way of releasing some of that energy and it helps distract me from what’s going on in my head.”

Health & Wellbeing

Crawley vegan loses over 4 stone after joining Broadfield Weight Watchers

After deciding enough is enough, Geri joined Weight Watchers as a vegan and lost 64 and a half pounds.



Geri Maloney from Broadfield lost 64 and a half pounds after joining Weight Watchers and going vegan.

This month, Broadfield resident Geri Maloney celebrated losing 4½ stone after joining  her local Weight Watchers group.

Geri had always battled with her weight but decided to join Weight Watchers after seeing a photograph of herself on a family holiday.

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Geri explains, “I’ve been overweight my whole adult life. My clothes size kept creeping up and although I was never happy with my size, I just accepted it. Every now and again I would attempt to lose weight; I would lose a stone, feel great and then put it all back on again.”

Following from pregnancy, Geri had gained more weight and decided to transition from vegetarian to vegan, in the hope that the plant-based diet may aid her weight-loss, however Geri still found that she struggled.

She said:

“As veganism is more mainstream now there are so many unhealthy options available that it is very easy to still eat junk food, which I did, and therefore didn’t lose weight. I would very rarely look in a full-length mirror and always tried to avoid having full-length photos taken because I would hate seeing myself.

“I gave up on wearing nice clothes and adopted a uniform of leggings and baggy tops which I thought disguised my weight, but when I saw a photo of me holding my daughter, I thought about what she would think of it when she is older. I didn’t want her to look at it and see the Mum who was too unfit to run around after her once she learnt to walk, or never wanted to go clothes shopping.”

Geri knew that she had to make a change, and after seeing a banner advertising her local Broadfield Weight Watchers meeting, she plucked up the courage to sign up.

“It was one of the best decisions I have ever made; walking in was a little daunting but the welcome that I received from my coach, Sharon and the rest of the members, made me relax in no time. I walked out feeling totally inspired and like I could take on the world!”

Since joining Weight Watchers Geri has learnt new healthy eating habits whilst still enjoying her vegan-friendly food. She says:

“In my first week I learnt how to use the Weight Watchers mobile phone app, and I had great fun walking round the supermarkets scanning all my favourite foods, and was surprised by how many of the foods I loved were not off limits. The Flex plan has encouraged me to start cooking more using some of the zero-point foods like tofu, lentils, chickpeas and beans – they’re so versatile and really good for padding out meals to make me feel full and satisfied for longer.”

Now Geri has reached her goal weight and became a Weight Watchers Gold member, she says it’s not just about the weight she has lost, but everything else that she has gained!

“Losing weight has increased my confidence and made me feel fitter. I can go out for a walk with my daughter and chase her around without needing to sit down and rest afterwards.”

A Gold membership is awarded to members once they have achieved their goal weight. As well as receiving a certificate for their achievement, Gold members can attend meetings free of charge and as often as they like, if they stay within 5lbs of their target weight.

Coach Sharon Ashborn says:

“I love Geri because she’s so funky and hip! She brings sparkle to the room, encourages and supports our other members and always contributes to the meeting talks. The best part is she inspires and amazes me with her vegan diet, and how she has continued to follow it alongside the Flex plan.

“As Geri continues to attend the meetings, I will continue to support and encourage her to continue with the fantastic work she has done so far to ensure she will stay on track and take control of her goals for good.”

When asked if she had one piece of advice for people considering joining Weight Watchers, she said, “stop thinking about it and do it, just join! Embrace it and you will achieve your goal!”

Sharon Ashborn runs six meetings a week across West Sussex:

Monday at 5.30pm – Broadfield Youth and Community Centre
Tuesday at 6.30pm – Southwater Leisure Centre
Thursday at 8.45 & 10am – Southwater Leisure Centre
Friday at 9.30am – Haywards Heath St Wilfrids Church Hall
Saturday at 9.45am – Broadfield Youth and Community Centre

To find out more about Sharon’s Weight Watchers meetings email or visit to find out about other meetings.

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