WEST London-based rugby club Staines RFC and men’s mental health brand blOKes have announced a new partnership that will look to address the stigma around men’s mental health and encourage more open and honest conversations.
blOKes is designed to be a safe, supportive and non-judgemental space for men to open up about their mental health, connect with other likeminded people and share a #MaleTale.
Founder of blOKes, Tom Home, said: “I am absolutely delighted to announce this innovative new partnership between blOKes and Staines RFC. Having spoken to Staines’ CEO Stephen Leach and the club’s director of rugby Nick Allso, I couldn’t think of a better club to be involved with.
“Taking a responsibility to look after their player’s mental health is something that all clubs should look to make a priority, and Staines RFC are undertaking some great work in setting an example for all other amateur and professional clubs across the country.”
Since launching at the beginning of July 2020, several well-known players, including Tom Lindsay, Johnny Leota, Alex Rieder, Dan Mugford and Nick Williams, have all become blOKes brand ambassadors and are passionate about helping to encourage men to open up about and voice how they’re really feeling.
blOKes ambassador and former Wasps, Saracens, Gloucester and Bristol Bears hooker, Tom Lindsay, said: “People talking in general is so important but unfortunately, there is still a taboo and emasculating shadow around men talking about their mental health.
“The fear of losing their identity or ‘saving face’ among friends, family and colleagues is still a massive problem in this day and age. With resources like blOKes, men can start to feel safer talking about their worries, fears and problems, which could help them to help themselves and reassure them that it’s okay not to be okay.”
Stephen Leach, CEO of Staines RFC, said: “The stigma around the ‘tough’ rugby player is a hard one to shake sometimes and many struggle in silence. Having dealt with my own mental wellbeing in the past, I was in a very fortunate position where I had an amazing support network of family, friends and teammates around me to help me get through the dark days, and I’m excited to be able to now offer the support I was lucky to have but many others aren’t.
“To be able to announce a partnership like this at a grassroots rugby club shows how far we have come as a club. The partnership and work we can do together is something I look forward to seeing in action. We have been slowly building our member and player support around mental health. Last season saw us announce Reverend Chris Kennedy as our club Chaplin & member of our Return2Play team – a crucial part of helping our players return to the field. I’m thrilled to announce this partnership with blOKes and how we can now offer support to those who need it both on and off the field.”
Staines RFC director of rugby, Nick Allso, said: “I worry that rugby isn’t the safe place that it should be and needs to be. I am passionate about it becoming so and any club with which I am fortunate enough to be linked will do what it can to achieve that. blOKes is setting up a 21st century version of a safe place to chat with your mates. If we at Staines RFC can help to create a template to help blOKes and other clubs work together, that sounds pretty cool.”
Images: Ruth Lilley Media