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Date Published: 26/02/18

22 teams head to Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre as the SIFL kicks off the new season in style!

It felt like an age coming but the SIFL finally got underway on Friday 9th February with the Premier League first to kick-off. A new season brings new hope and the results on the opening day threw up a number of surprises adding to the general consensus that the title is well and truly up for grabs for a host of teams.


The youthful and technically gifted Platform 5 ended the day on top with a clutch of teams hot on their heels. Newly promoted from the Championship, Platform 5 continue to improve and their relentless energy will stand them in good stead for the remainder of the season. Last season’s champions ARC FC sit in 5th place but will no doubt climb the table as key players return.

The Championship returned on Friday 23rd February and we were very pleased to welcome Fleetwood Town Community Trust, The Spinney and Bury Cygnet to the SIFL family. Also a shout out to our good friends from Derby County Community Trust who began their third season with us…that’s one hell of a journey boys!

Again, the quality of the League just gets better and better each season and after the first 10 fixtures it’s going to be difficult to call. Blackburn Brasilia A have set the early pace but only 9 points separate them from their sister club down in 7th place. New boys Fleetwood Town and The Spinney have both got off to strong starts while the MDI teams, under the guidance of Geoff Wilkinson, will definitely have their say in the title race.

We hope everyone had a great day and hands together for Cathryn, Wayne and Paul D without whom…

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See you all next month! #KeepTheFaith


Date Published: 07/02/18

SIFL returns to Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre this Friday!

After the much maligned ‘Winter break’ the SIFL returns to the BRIC for a brand new season! Word continues to spread and we are very pleased to welcome three new teams to the League: The Spinney from Atherton, Cygnet from Bury and Fleetwood Town Community Trust. We know you’ll make all their players and staff feel very welcome and we wish them all the best in their debut season.

Last season ended on a real high and we gained some fantastic publicity thanks to the support of the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, the Butlers Arms, Positive Minds and the Lancashire Telegraph. And, of course, it was a real pleasure to welcome Blokes United from Hull as our special guests for the final set of fixtures. Playing for them was former Coventry City winger Jamie Barnwell and our old friend Colin Dolan from the Mental Health FA.

It’s the turn of the Premier League this Friday featuring the following teams:


The Championship takes place on Friday 23rd January and features:


While the rest of us go again, AFG Wigan yo-yo again…


Date Published: 07/02/18

Blokes United get off to a flying start!

Last Thursday saw the launch of the much anticipated Blokes United. A spin-off from the SIFL, this new project runs every Thursday evening starting with an hours football at the Witton Park astro-turf pitches (7-8pm) followed by a brew and chat at our sponsors The Butlers Arms in Pleasington.

Blokes United is open to all males (16+) who may be isolated, lonely or experiencing early signs of depression or anxiety. The Project is facilitated by Creative Support volunteers and SIFL regulars Wayne Beck and Paul Davies. The first session attracted 8 players which is an excellent turn out for a fledgling project.

The concept of Blokes United originally hails from Hull and was the brainchild of former professional footballer Jamie Barnwell: “Blokes United began two years ago in Hull through some general group session chats and we looked at ways where we could help break down the barrier for men to talk using the power of football.”

Please don’t suffer in silence. Get your boots on, play some footy and get talkin’! Email or phone 01254 674301 for more information… or just turn up!






Date Published: 20/12/17

Pleasington pub joins campaign to reduce social isolation at Christmas

 Members of the Blackburn based Social Inclusion Football League1 were treated to Christmas lunch at The Butlers Arms in Pleasington this week as part of HEINEKEN’s2 national Brewing Good Cheer campaign, which will see 50 pubs across the country put on a free festive lunch for hundreds of socially isolated people.

For many the festive period is the season to be jolly, with fun filled celebrations and socialising with friends, colleagues and family. Yet an estimated nine million people2 will be alone for much of the holiday.

HEINEKEN’S Brewing Good Cheer campaign will raise awareness of social exclusion and inspire people to connect with their community.  As a passionate supporter of the Great British Pub, HEINEKEN is highlighting the unique role pubs, such as The Butlers Arms, play in the community

Thirty team members and volunteers from the Social Inclusion Football League joined licensee Mike Hales at his pub for a traditional Christmas lunch with all the trimmings.

Mike Hales “The Social Inclusion Football League is all about addressing the isolation and discrimination those with mental health issues face. I wanted to give back this Christmas and, as The Butlers Arms is very much a community pub, bringing the players together for a meal seemed the perfect way to do it. The work the organisation does is priceless and it was an honour to put on the lunch. We’ve now adopted them as our charity for the year and want to raise further awareness of the excellent work they do and the suffering they help.”

Wayne Beck, player and volunteer with the Social Inclusion Football League, who attended the lunch said: “Playing football is the highlight of my week. I am surrounded by like-minded people and peer support and enjoy the new friendships, laughter and a sense of belonging. Since becoming a volunteer I have been able to share my own experiences whilst giving and receiving hope. The role has given me something to get up for and enables me to give something back. This Christmas I would be eating alone if it wasn’t for the Butlers Arms. Tuesday 19th December will be my Christmas Day with my new family and friends. I can’t thank them enough.”

David Paterson, corporate affairs director for HEINEKEN said: “There really is no place like the Great British pub – it’s the place where relationships start, friendships are cemented and memories made.  We believe pubs are at the heart of communities and we’re delighted to be working with so many pub landlords who want to make a positive difference this Christmas.  We hope our Brewing Good Cheer campaign raises awareness of the issue of social isolation and inspires more people and publicans like Mike to get involved and brew some good cheer this Christmas!”

– ENDS –

Note to editors:


2 In addition to being Britain’s leading cider and beer business, HEINEKEN owns nearly 3,000 pubs through its Star Pubs & Bars business.  xxxx are in xxxx Lancashire.


Further information from:

Mike Hales, The Butlers Arms – 07854461022; Paul Hardman, The Social Inclusion Football League – 07968 458612; Lucy Hall, on behalf of Brewing Good Cheer – 07775 850206.



Date Published: 19/12/17

SIFL Championship season ends on a high!

The dust had barely settled on a tumultuous day at Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre when Twitter exploded into life regaling the day’s events. We can’t recall such a positive reaction to a match day but there was much to feel good about.

With Derby County Community Trust making their monthly trip across the A50 and up the M6, the SIFL also welcomed, for the first time, Blokes Utd who travelled along the notorious cone-laden M62 from Hull. Both these teams deserve enormous credit for travelling such long distances and we can’t thank them enough for their support. We also had Anthony Lopez bus it from Southport to play for Kemple View and Football Therapy Godfather Colin Dolan (CEO of the Mental Health FA) train it from Liverpool to turn out for Blokes Utd! It fills us with pride!

The atmosphere on the day was something else. With the likes of Sonic Youth, the Orielles and Kate Tempest trembling from the PA and MC Abbs directing teams to their fixtures there was a real buzz about the place.

Much of the days focus fell on AFG Wigan and FC Bolton who, with only a point separating them before the day began, were fighting it out to be League Champions.

As the final games drew to a close, Chris Truckle from Positive Minds arrived with his chefs to feed 100 players some sensational tasting vegetable chilli wraps, all eagerly wolfed down. Mike Hales from the Butlers Arms arrived to watch a few games before he was on presentation duties with everyone’s favourite maverick, Wayne Beck.


FC BOLTON, who pipped AFG WIGAN to the title by 2 points! Great effort lads. FC BOLTON also claimed the GOLDEN BOOT care of the very talented Danny.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON (over both divisions) went to BLACKBURN BRASILIA B forward MATTY ATKINSON. This was Matty’s first full season in the League having started out in the Creative Support Wednesday sessions. Matty has made fantastic progress and the award was thoroughly deserved.

Check out our Twitter Page along with the BRFC Community Trust social media platforms for further coverage of the day including some great interviews with Jamie Barnwell and Colin Dolan!

Pics by: Geoff Wilkinson

Date Published: 18/12/2017


Positive Minds and Blackburn with Darwen’s Wellbeing Service team up with Creative Support to promote healthy eating and feed 100 footballers!

For the past five weeks members of Creative Support’s Social Inclusion Service have participated in a healthy eating course called ‘Be the Chef’.

Based at the Bank Top Neighbourhood Learning Centre, the course has been designed by Chris Truckle and Janice Horsley of Positive Minds with the support of the Wellbeing team. The course concluded on Friday 15th December with the group transporting vegetable chilli wraps to the Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre to feed over one hundred footballers as the current Social Inclusion Football League (SIFL) season drew to a close.

Paul Hardman [Support Coordinator at Creative Support and Project Lead for the SIFL] said, “Once again we have teamed up with Positive Minds and the Wellbeing Service to enable our service users to learn new skills. Their style of delivery and the way they support our members is always reflected in the excellent feedback we receive and the new found confidence in course participants. With Pennine Lancashire officially being confirmed as one of 12 pilot areas chosen by Sport England to help people get physically active and improve their wellbeing and lifestyle choices, it is important that these strong partnerships are already in place.”

Chris Truckle [Positive Minds Coordinator / Tutor] said, “As part of our work to improve mental health and wellbeing in Blackburn and Darwen through Adult Learning courses it has been a real pleasure to develop a course which has given learners the chance to build practical skills and confidence around cooking healthily as well as the opportunity to enjoy making and giving something to others.  The fact we have all been able to work in a genuine and collaborative manner has helped to enhance the learning experience for all involved.”

Paul Thompson [Wellbeing Service Manager] said, “Dione the Health Trainer had been working with Creative Support for a couple of months, when she discovered an area of need with the client group in terms of eating habits. Dione and Chris saw this as an opportunity to collaboratively deliver a programme that imparted the skills, knowledge and opportunity that the client group needed in order to lead a healthier lifestyle.”


Creative Support is a charitable organisation which promotes the independence, inclusion and wellbeing of people with care and support needs. It provides both Floating Support and Social Inclusion Services within Blackburn with Darwen including the National Lottery funded Social Inclusion Football League.


Positive Minds, as part of Blackburn with Darwens Adult Learning Service, helps to improve quality of life and raise ambitions of local people experiencing poor wellbeing.The service helps over 3,000 adults learn new skills and develop interests every year, ranging from healthy cooking, first aid, computers, food-hygiene to improving reading, writing and maths skills.


Blackburn with Darwen’s Wellbeing Service combines CCG funded condition management projects (COPD, cardiac, stroke rehabilitation) mixed with a wide range of Public Health funded services (health trainers, stop smoking, community physical activity including a significant amount of free leisure provision) as well as core Council services which address employment housing and financial issues.


Date Published: 13/12/2017


ARC FC, Paul Davies (Cobblers Development) and Wayne Bowman (Platform 5) took the plaudits as another SIFL Premier League season came to end on Friday 8th December at Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre.

ARC FC stormed to the title winning all their games on the final day despite only needing one point to secure top spot while Discover Dynamos, led by the irrepressible Vinnie Thompson, pipped Cobblers Development to the Runners Up spot. Some consolation for the Cobblers came in the form of star striker Paul Davies who comfortably won the Golden Boot with a spectacular 76 goals!

Platform 5 Player / Manager Wayne Bowman was the recipient of the ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award sponsored by our new partners and good friends, the Butlers Arms. Owner Mike Hales presented Wayne with the trophy for his efforts over the last few years in managing Platform 5 and for his unswerving support of the SIFL. This was Wayne’s last day in charge of the team as he takes on a new role at Nightsafe and we wish him all the very best for the future.

It’s been another great season and we can’t thank you enough for all your involvement and support. Thank you to Wayne and Abbs for coordinating match days on the mics, Chris Brankin and all the BRFC Community Trust staff for all their hard work, Geoff Wilkinson for plugging holes and filling gaps and Dale Helsby for doing the score corrections on the vidi-printer.

The final day of the SIFL Champuionship takes place this Friday (15th December) with one point separating AFG Wigan and FC Bolton at the top of the table! It’s gonna be some last day!

For the final League tables check in here:

Pictures by: Geoff Wilkinson


Date Publsihed: 16/10/2017

Reflecting on World Mental Health Day and a week full of Football!


Date Publsihed: 09/10/2017

We can all beat depression!

By Paul Davies

Not a lot of people know this, but for 12 years I have fought severe depression and anxiety. I am not writing this for sympathy or anything else. I want to help and show people that depression can be beaten!

I’m writing this now as I am no longer ashamed or embarrassed and feel this is something I no longer want hidden. I actually feel stronger than I have for many years and guess what? For the first time in a long time I’m actually winning!

It started 12 years ago, I had just finished my GCSE’s and was working in the summer before I started college. I was also coming to the end of my Rochdale contract, where a big decision was to be made. Life was just beginning for me.

Then, in August 2005, I was electrocuted at my work place by a 3 phase, 430 vaults, and I went into cardiac arrest. Wow, what I shock (literally) this felt like it had destroyed me. I went from a free spirited and care free teenager to a complete mess. I was scared of everything from a kettle to getting on trains and fair ground rides.

I received counselling and my parents stuck strong by my side, sometimes dragging my ass out of bed to my appointments. After many sessions I felt I could continue on my journey of life, but wait…something still didn’t feel right. Anxiety stuck with me like my shadow and still does till this day and probably will till I die.

Through the years I lost family and friends as everyone does. I was always the rock for others throughout their grief, never grieving myself, but months later it would affect me. I couldn’t deal with what happens to everyone, from deaths to an idiot pulling out on me in a car. Any little thing would ruin my whole day.

On my days off from work I would wake up at 7am look at the ceiling and look back at my clock to find it was 4pm. I would be confused and this would frustrate me and 6 years ago I tried to end it.

I got more help, counselling, regular doctors’ appointments etc. I put it all to the back of my mind and again tried to continue with my life. Yet again something didn’t feel right.

Then I met my beautiful fiancée and I had a great job, things were looking up for me. We found out we were having a son, Feb 2016 this handsome little guy entered my world. I felt complete and I took to parenting really well.

For some unknown reason I started to feel ups and downs again, they gradually got worse. I had no control over it, why was this happening? I mean I felt complete, so I was really confused. I tried my hardest to block everything out, the thoughts and worthless feelings I felt. It got worse and worse to the point I could no longer cope and then it happened…

I attempted suicide again. Why did I do it? I love my family, why would I want to leave them? Putting my parents through this again? Leaving my son with no dad? Why am I so selfish? Why do I feel my Mrs and son would be better off without me? These are all questions I asked myself before, after and still do to this day.

Thankfully I came out of resuscitation and was told basically this was my last life. I was so lucky to survive.

In January 2017 I made the toughest decision of my life and agreed to go in a 48 hour secure unit, were I could be monitored on behaviour and moods.

I came out of there with fantastic support from the crisis team as well as my family for many months and still to this day. I am still continuing my recovery and will always be fighting it all my life, but when you’re on top it gets easier.

I have put so much weight on, I’m unfit and jobless, but guess what?…I’m healthier than my appearance shows, I’m happier than ever and most importantly I’m WINNING!!!!! You can lose weight and you can find another job anytime, but you will never find happiness if you IGNORE IT! You will always be losing until you fight it head on. It’s not easy and you will have highs and lows and you will doubt yourself, but what’s the other alternative? Quit? Death? No matter how much you think this world would be better off without you, I promise you, you are so wrong! Everyone has a place and a role to play in this world. I am living proof that anyone can beat depression and restart their lives, I’m also aware it isn’t over and it will always be there to bite me on my ass again but get control and stay in control.

Do all these questions sound familiar? Can you see comparisons in yourself and my story? Do you lie in bed staring for hours? Not wanting to get up? Do you always want peace and quiet? Prefer not to have company? Do you just sit in the dark?

Please, please get HELP!

Don’t let it be too late. It took me 12 years to realise I had an illness. It took 12 years to realise how much great help is actually out there. If one therapy doesn’t work then there are other options.

Be honest with yourself and speak out please, you are not alone and there are so many people in the same shoes as you.

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps others.


Date published: 18/09/2017

World Mental Health Day Football Tournament 2017

People in Lancashire who may have lost touch with their social networks are being encouraged to take part in a football tournament to mark this year’s World Mental Health Day (WMHD). The Live Healthy Gain Extra Time football tournament ran by Lancashire Care’s Community Restart Team.

Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Community Restart Team provides help and support to people living with mental health problems enabling them to improve their quality of life and experience positive new challenges. The team works with individual service users to provide tailored support for things such as employment, finances, housing and social inclusion.

The service had previously worked with service users and the community to develop community football groups to tackle social isolation and increase overall health and wellbeing. They have since worked with Lancashire FA to develop a community league which teams from across Lancashire take part in every month. Also at the event are three guest speakers with experience of mental health from ‘sport in mind’ who will be delivering three workshops for people to get involved in.

David Murphy, Service User Development Co-ordinator in the Central Lancashire Community Restart Team at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said:

“When people are experiencing mental health problems it can lead them to withdrawing from support networks such as family, friends and local communities. We want to encourage people to get back into their community and social networks at their own pace as this can have a positive impact on their recovery and sustaining improved mental health and wellbeing. Taking part in exercise is also known to be a great way to improve our overall health and wellbeing so we combined the two to create a football league.

“To celebrate World Mental Health Day 2017 we are holding the tournament for everyone to get involved with a game or two; you never know you could be part of the winning team!”

Paul Hardman, Support Coordinator at Creative Support said:

 “Football has been proven to play a significant part in peoples recovery and the support networks and friendships built through tournaments like this can last a lifetime. Much like the League set up by the Trust’s Community Restart Team in Preston, we have seen fantastic outcomes from our own Social Inclusion Football League at Blackburn Rovers Community Trust. The benefits of increased fitness, confidence, self-esteem and new friendships have paved the way for many of our players to explore new opportunities within volunteering, education and employment.

“Once again, we are very proud to be working alongside David Murphy and the Lancashire Care’s Community Restart Team. With the support of UCLan Sports Arena and our other partners it is destined to be another fantastic event.”

Andrew Whittaker, Football Development Officer at Lancashire Football Association said:

“Lancashire FA are working in partnership with, Creative Support, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, UCLAN, Lancashire Mind and other key local partners who support people wellbeing. Over the past 3 year this partnership has develop from using the national game of football to help tackle the stigma attached to mental health. This year theme is mental wellbeing in the workplace. This year’s event is going to build on the development of local opportunities for example the creative support league based at Blackburn Rovers football club and the community inclusion league based at playfootball in Preston. This year’s event is looking to raise the awareness of the next work force and members of the community using lived experiences from state of mind to name just one.”

The event will be held on Tuesday 10 October from 10am-4pm at UCLan Sports arena, Tom Benson Way, Preston, PR2 1SG. Anyone interested in taking part in the tournament should register their interest by contacting David Murphy on 07903516657.

Published 15th Sep 2017


SIFL funds Mental Health Awareness Course for NCS

Date published: 22/08/2017

NCS Team 4 arrive back at Ewood Park after their sponsored walk for Creative Support

During the week commencing 7th August the SIFL teamed up with Chris Truckle from Positive Minds to provide a Mental Health Awareness Course for this Summers intake of NCS Students at Blackburn Rovers Community Trust. The course gave the students an insight into common mental health issues and tackled the discrimination that those with a diagnosis face. We looked at how the media portrays mental health, delved into the world of grime via a very candid interview from Stormzy and talked about how we can support a mate or a family member. The course was presented to six different teams of students in the Darwen End at Ewood Park involving around 80 young people.

We were very honoured to find out that NCS Team 4 did a sponsored walk from the Rovers Training ground at Brockhall to Ewood Park (8 miles) to raise money to purchase much needed equipment for our Social Inclusion Art Group as well as a load of footballs for the SIFL!

Our sincerest thanks go to Chris Truckle for facilitating such a fantastic course, all the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust staff for their hospitality and of course the NCS Students who have been an absolute pleasure to work with. We wish them the very best of luck for the future…


BwD Leaving Care Team host North West 5-a-side Tournament

Date published: 29/06/2017

Rebecca McPartlan and the BwD Leaving Care Team hosted this years North West Leaving Care 5-a-side Tournament at Witton Park today. SIFL outfit Madrid 5 represented Blackburn as defending Champions. Teams traveled from Tameside, Halton, Wirral, Wigan, Liverpool, Cheshire East and St.Helens to compete on the Witton astro-turf in typical rain-soaked summer conditions! The eventual winners were Wirral who defeated Blackburn in the Final.

First FA Level 1 Coaching Course completed!

Date published: 29/06/2017

The FA Level 1 Coaching course started on 12th June and ran over 5 sessions held at Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre. 14 volunteers and Social Inclusion League players all gained the skills and coaching tools to aid them in developing their teams. With most of the now coaches being involved in the Social Inclusion League this will inevitably benefit our league in the future. Lots of activities, tasks and homework was involved and with loads of encouragement from the course tutor Lee everyone’s confidence and knowledge had greatly improved by the end of the course.  Hopefully, after a little more experience on the pitch this qualification will give the new coaches the confidence to progress further and go on to qualify at Level 2. Well done to all those who attended.