Community and Connection

Sporting Recovery: Widening Participation

Using physical activity and social interaction to improve the wellbeing of those with serious mental illness

Sporting Recovery is a Peckham-based not for profit Community Interest Company, providing opportunities for social interaction through physical activity and a Wellness Café. Sport is used as a vehicle for recovery for those with mental health issues.

The ‘Widening Participation’ project, funded by the Maudsley Charity, will use physical activity and social interaction to raise self-esteem, reduce social isolation and promote the wellbeing of people experiencing mental distress and those recovering from more serious mental illnesses.

Making sports inclusive

“Sometimes sports can feel exclusive, but we make it as inclusive as possible” Patrick Berry, one of the Directors said. A variety of activities are on offer, from yoga and tai chi, to football and non-contact boxing. The on-site Wellness Café enables beneficiaries to socialise and combat feelings of isolation.

Many participants are referred from South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, but the project also has links with Community Southwark, Southwark Wellbeing Hub, St Giles, and the local Job Centre. Anyone experiencing anxiety, depression, with or without a diagnosis, can self-refer or speak to their GP to sign up.

“Mutual respect underpins everything we do”

“What matters is that people are treated as individuals, not as someone with a mental health issue” said Catherine Crawford, a Director. “Mutual respect underpins everything we do”.

To that end, they encourage support workers and carers to get involved in the same activities: “It shows that everyone benefits from taking part, and it breaks down barriers”.

Referrals from across south London

Sporting Recovery operates out of the Damilola Taylor Centre in Peckham, although due to COVID-19 has been running in Burgess Park during the summer months.

Participants come from Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark to use the services. In the future they hope to expand into these boroughs with volunteer-led branches.

The Widening Participation programme will run every Wednesday 12-4pm starting in October. Find out more about Sporting Recovery:

Watch the personal stories of some of the people who have beneffited from Sporting Recovery: