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Foundation CEO emphasises importance of supporting mental health during lockdown

Palace for Life CEO Mike Summers spoke to Sky Sports News about the vital need to support the mental health of young people during lockdown.

Palace for Life Foundation Chief Executive Mike Summers has highlighted the importance of supporting young people who might be dealing with anxiety and other mental health challenges at home during the lockdown.

“Some young people love the fact that they can stay at home all day but for every one of them, there are a larger number who are really struggling. They’re stuck at home, they’re not seeing their friends, some are living in cramped accommodation and are not able to get out.

“Many families are having a difficult time and there’s a lot of anxiety around. We do worry about the mental health of some of our local young people.”

Speaking about the recent work that Palace for Life has implemented to help support mental health in the local area, the Palace for Life CEO said:

“We’ve got a very innovative team of staff and they’ve come up with a number of ideas. One of our great programmes is called Palace Pad Chat and we’re using gaming platforms, such as PlayStation 4 and Xbox, to enable our mentors, who would normally be working with young people in a one-to-one mentoring basis at the stadium, to instead play FIFA or Fortnite as an opportunity to hold conversations with young people.

“It’s a chance for us to find out how they’re doing, hear about their issues and their anxieties and it’s been really good way of keeping in touch with young people around the local area.”

Find out more about Palace Pad Chat.

Palace for Life are also running a ‘Returning to School’ Webinar on Thursday 21st May to give parents and teachers the insights of experts to help them best support children and young people’s mental health as they return to school. With over 100 people booked on, a live stream will also be available on YouTube to enable even more people to join.

Supporting the mental health of young people in south London is a key mission for the Foundation, which typically runs the Team Mates programme in primary schools to offer additional support for children to help build their emotional resilience and self-esteem.

Summers continued: “We’re proud to still be able to listen to families and young people at this time, to give them some advice, and to hopefully provide them with the support they need.”

But Summers knows that mental health affects everyone and that’s why at the start of lockdown, the Foundation joined club staff to call Palace supporters over the age of 70. Making over 1200 calls, staff just called for a chat and to reminisce about Palace, but, in some cases, unearthed some quite serious cases of isolation. Some staff are still in touch on a regular basis and Palace legends, such as Mark Bright and Dougie Freedman, have also picked up the phone to fans.

“It’s really made a lot of people’s day at a time when a lot of people are very anxious and very lonely, so we’re delighted to help.”

Summers, like everyone who works at the Club and the Foundation, would like to thank all Palace fans for their continued support during these testing times:

“Our fanbase has really come to the fore here. Fans have been donating money for the Palace Kitchen to provide more meals, to the local food bank and to the Croydon NHS by playing the Palace for Life Super Draw.

“The Palace fanbase is always very generous and has really come together to help the local community at this time. As we move through the uncertainty of this pandemic in the coming weeks and months, we will continue to need that support more than ever.”

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