Per Mertesacker has paid a visit to our mental health football programme at The Arsenal Hub - home of Arsenal in the Community.
Ahead of our Arsenal for Everyone matchday on Sunday, Per, who worked in a mental health hospital as a young man, chatted to our coaches and participants and took part in the football session.
The Arsenal in the Community run project provides an inspiring, supportive network for local people with mental health diagnoses. As part of our Arsenal for Everyone initiative, the tailored programme breaks down all barriers that make it difficult for people to enjoy football. The participants on the programme have represented Arsenal in a number of tournaments throughout the country and have attended a number of matches at Emirates Stadium in recent months.
Our Disability Officer Luke Howard said: "We work to offer a safe and positive environment for local people who have a diagnosed mental health condition. Along with healthy physical activity the project opens up wider opportunities linking to education, accredited courses and employment.”
"The staff from Arsenal and Camden & Islington Mental Health Trust have worked hard to build trusting relationships that are so important to a project like this. We’re very proud of the group and their achievements and would like to thank Per for coming along today to spend some time with us!"
Per added: "It was great to come and meet the guys and hear their stories and understand how the football programme is helping them a little bit. For me it's always a privilege to come and see the projects we're involved with around Emirates Stadium. It makes me very proud."
Amongst a number of celebrations that will take place at our game against Brighton on Sunday, the mental health football team will receive a special presentation pitch side at Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal in the Community’s disability provision is partly backed by a joint Premier League/BT Disability Initiative which sees clubs backed by both organisations to enhance their inclusive provision through finance, volunteering and broadcast.
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