Collaborating with Arsenal & Brandon Connect to improve mental health in Islington

“Islington Giving’s role in the borough is primarily around funding and programme development. So we’ve got a strong focus on overcoming loneliness and isolation, and supporting positive mental health.” ~ Patrick Jones, Programme Manager

Islington is a vibrant and diverse place full of opportunity, but can also be a tough place to live, with complex challenges. The borough has some of the highest levels of severe mental health in the country, highlighting the need to work together and effectively address this.

This Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW), we highlight our collaboration with Brandon Centre and Arsenal in the Community. With the aim to improve mental health and wellbeing in Islington, this innovative collaboration is an important step in tackling loneliness and social isolation in the borough.

Arsenal Girls Kicks Programme

An image of Osiro and young girls at Arsenal Girls Kicks

Arsenal in the Community has been part of the national Kicks Programme since 2006. Run by 92 professional football clubs across the UK, the programme aims to empower young people and keep them away from anti-social behaviour, drugs and crime.

In 2019, Islington Giving and the London Marathon Charitable Trust provided additional funding to extend their Arsenal Girls programme, in collaboration with Brandon Centre and other community organisations. This innovative collaboration aims to provide holistic wellbeing support to young girls (between the ages of 8 and 17), attending Arsenal in the Community Girls’ Kicks, in the form of workshops, group and one-to-one support.

To learn more, we spoke to the inspiring Osiro Imoedemhe, Sports Psychologist, who delivers the programme through the Brandon Centre.

“…The topics we focus on are aimed at increasing football performance but are also heavily wellbeing-oriented. This means that the learnings from the session are applicable to day-to-day life.” ~ Osiro Imoedemhe, Sports Psychologist

Arsenal & Brandon Connect (Young people’s counselling) 

Young person getting counselling

Brandon Connect is a service funded by Islington Giving which provides outreach therapeutic support to 17–25-year-old males, whose progression in education, training or employment is being impeded by their mental health problems. These include social anxiety and depression. Typically, these young men are stuck at home, many have dropped out of education, and some have suffered violence and trauma

The service builds on the first phase of Brandon Connect funded by Islington Giving in 2017, with further funding the following year for to extend its work in partnership with Arsenal in the Community. It also has strong links with local employment support providers and creative projects and can help ‘bridge’ young people into these services.

We spoke to Geoffrey Baruch who runs the young people’s counselling service based in the Arsenal Hub. Geoffrey shares how the service has helped to transform the lives of the young men, as well as what makes it unique.

“A great strength provided by the Islington Giving support is that it has allowed the sort of long-term work that is unavailable on the NHS but is needed to help some young people referred to both Brandon Connect and Arsenal in the Community Counselling Service with entrenched chronic social anxiety.”

This feature is part of our content for MHAW, highlighting our collaboration with Brandon Centre and Arsenal in the Community. Sign up to our newsletter today for more inspiring content.