Volunteering for Sport In Mind

Calmwards founder Gen talks about her recent experience volunteering for the fantastic UK sports mental health charity Sport In Mind.

How does exercise make a difference to your mental health?

The health of your mind and body are intrinsically linked. Exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol as well as stimulating the production of endorphins, our body's natural painkillers and mood elevators. Exercising regularly can help improve your self confidence, self esteem, and provide an opportunity to socialise with others. Studies have shown that there’s roughly a 20% - 30% lower risk of depression and dementia for adults that are active every day.

Why Sport In Mind?

I’ve come to realise in recent years the huge benefits of sport and exercise on managing and maintaining good mental health. It’s become a vital wellbeing tool for me so when I started thinking about working with a charity, I knew that I wanted to find one that focused on these things. I typed “sport” and “mental health” into Google and luckily Sport In Mind came up in the search! It seemed like the perfect fit: a charity that delivers sport and physical activity sessions to aid the recovery of people experiencing mental health problems. 

How are Sport In Mind different?

The thing that caught my eye about Sport In Mind is their focus on providing a fun and informal atmosphere at their sessions; it’s less about the clinical management of mental health and more about the enjoyment of being with others and being active, whatever your sporting ability.

Who do Sport In Mind help?

Sport In Mind run a variety of sport and physical activity sessions across the South East, including football, yoga, basketball, tai chi, tennis and badminton. They also have two allotments which cater for the more green-fingered participants. They deliver supported sessions for people experiencing mental health problems in the community and inpatient care to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to be active irrespective of their current situation. If you'd like to know more about attending a Sport In Mind session near you, please check out their website.


What I’ve been doing as a volunteer for Sport In Mind

I was lucky to benefit from a volunteering scheme run by my employer the John Lewis Partnership which enabled me to volunteer for Sport In Mind for 6 months. In my time with the SIM team I did a variety of different things, from creating workshops and researched fundraising options to filming and editing YouTube content.

Would you consider volunteering for Sport In Mind?

As a small but growing charity, there are loads of opportunities to get involved and help Sport In Mind; they’re not a huge charity machine so you really feel like you’re making a tangible difference. The team are genuinely grateful for everything you can do to support whether it’s putting together a PowerPoint template, becoming a regular session volunteer or cheering at an event. Basically, whatever your skillset is, Sport In Mind will have something that you can contribute towards! If you’re thinking about doing some volunteering (either through work or in your spare time) then definitely consider Sport In Mind. 

What next?

I’m looking forward to doing some more projects with Sport In Mind in the future, in particular supporting their first year as the sporting charity partner of the Reading Half Marathon 2021. 

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