It feels good to be a sports fan these days. Team GB’s Olympic and Paralympic medal haul, Emma Radacanu’s tennis win and a football team respected for performance off pitch, as much as on.
So the Gratitude Games – a new multi-sport event in recognition of emergency responders - comes at just the right time. With the aim of generating £10 million over 5 years to fund mental health services for emergency responders' and NHS workers, the campaign harnesses our collective sporting fervour, at a time when the Pandemic is drawing on emergency service resilience and expertise more than ever. Manchester and Salford will hold the inaugural games in 2022 for 20,000 emergency responders and their families.
I work on the Games founding team and delivered the social media launch campaign, reaching three million Twitter accounts, with backing from Ambassadors including Tessa Sanderson CBE, Olympic, Commonwealth and World Cup Gold Medallist, plus former England international cricketer Darren Gough and Geraint Jones, ex England Cricketer and serving Firefighter. Other familiar faces include Laura Tott, serving paramedic and a star of Channel 4’s ‘First Dates’
Speaking to some of my sporting heroes in the lead up to the launch, and then witnessing the enthusiasm for the Games across social media, has been overwhelming. To be combining my day job, with a project supporting emergency responders through sport is a personal win. Social media has been a game changer in talking about mental health, so converting that into a channel for action for emergency responders will be key to this campaign over the coming months.
The vision for the Games is clear: to create a nation where every emergency responder is supported in their mental health. The call to us all, the British public and businesses, is to donate to help make this vision a reality, so existing specialist organisations – Police Care UK, The Fire Fighters Charity, The Ambulance Staff Charity and Duty to Care (NHS) – can collectively support all emergency responders to improve their mental health. The Games will raise awareness of mental health challenges, while enabling people to show appreciation for this essential work.