Wasps will dedicating their opening match of the Gallagher Premiership season to the emergency services. The club will shine a spotlight on the efforts of those associated with the NHS, fire service and police force ahead of their clash with Exeter Chiefs at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday 8th September.

The Wasps Nest Fan Village will be open ahead of kick-off, featuring a range of equipment and games from West Midlands Fire Service, West Midlands Police, West Midlands Ambulance Service and the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.

Also joining emergency services personnel on match day is a mental health campaign called It Takes Balls to Talk to mark World Suicide Prevention Day on Monday 10th September. The campaign is encouraging people, particularly men, to talk about their feelings and open up about mental health.

Additionally, the recently-formed Recovery & Wellbeing Academy, will be attending the match. By delivering a learning approach that complements existing mental health services, the Recovery & Wellbeing Academy helps to support and empower people to cope with the challenges posed by mental health issues.

The Academy is co-produced by Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind and more than 20 other partnership organisations. The service has seen 1,600 people enrol since January. Sessions offered by the Academy include weekly courses and workshops designed to empower people in recognising their existing skills, abilities and resources to become experts in their own recovery and wellbeing.

Manager, Stacy Cooper, has worked for the NHS and supported people in their mental health journey for more than 15 years, and was a key driving force behind setting up the partnership of 22 organisations that now provides courses on behalf of the Recovery & Wellbeing Academy – whose most popular courses include, anxiety management and relaxation, coping with depression and an introduction to mindfulness.

She said:

“For Wasps to give health and emergency services this level of acknowledgement is incredibly noble –it sends a powerful message and it provides an excellent platform for us to talk to people about the pro-active services that we provide beyond reacting to emergency situations.

“I’m really passionate about people gaining control of their own lives and taking their own journey of recovery, and after months of campaigning and hard work, we were able to launch the Recovery & Wellbeing Academy in September last year in Coventry and Warwickshire.

 “The Recovery & Wellbeing Academy is about preventing the decline of people’s mental wellbeing by equipping them to manage their own struggles, but it is also there to support people who have been very unwell to help them adopt new coping strategies and move forward in their own time.

 “For example, money shortage can cause anxiety, therefore we have a partnership with the Department for Work Pensions who deliver a course on managing universal credit, while Coventry Building Society also support by providing a money management workshop.

 “One of the key messages of the academy is that we are ‘stronger together’ hence the solid partnerships with a wide network of people and organisations. People can hear from others who have experienced similar emotions to them, while also discussing ways to cope with their own mental health struggles. 

 “I whole heartedly believe that everyone has mental health and wellbeing, and we all need a little help at times throughout our lives.”

Verity Brown, events and match day marketing manager at Wasps, added:

“This is the second year we will be dedicating a match day to the emergency services after the overwhelming success of last year’s event.

 “It’s important to show support to the personnel who work tirelessly to keep us healthy and safe, whether that’s simply showing our gratitude, helping to pique youngsters’ interest in a career as an emergency services worker, or even raising awareness of vital services such as the Recovery & Wellbeing Academy.

“The fan village will be swarming with emergency services stands and personnel which will be of interest to all the family, so we’d urge fans to arrive early if they can to pay a visit before heading to their seats.”

Tickets to Wasps versus Exeter Chiefs start from £18 for adults with under-10s going free in certain areas, and can be purchased by visiting here  www.wasps.co.uk

For more information about the Recovery & Wellbeing Academy visit here https://recoveryandwellbeing.covwarkpt.nhs.uk/