This month Veronica had a chat with Ashley Lowe, Health and Wellbeing Manager at Newcastle United Foundation about the ‘Be a Game Changer’ campaign she launched in February.
So, what’s the basis of the ‘Be a Game Changer’ campaign?
It was fully supported by Newcastle City Council and the Premier League, and its aim is to change the conversation about mental health among Newcastle United fans. As part of the campaign, we are providing tips on how to look after your physical health and mental wellbeing, sharing real-life stories from supporters and signposting to support services. To reach our target audience, we are using a mix of traditional channels including press, social media, community events and match day activities.
How did the Mental Health Awareness week campaign go?
We were out and about in the community talking to people and spreading the word about the campaign. People are taking a real interest and want to be part of it. Social Media helped us make a real impact. We got a significant engagement through our channels which was supported by interviews with members of our Health and Wellbeing team on fan podcasts, BBC Radio Newcastle and ITV Tyne Tees. As a result of this combined activity, we had 20 fans contact us who wished to share their mental health story on the basis that it could help others, which is fantastic.
Can you describe your ideal target audience?
We are targeting NUFC fans, particularly men, age 30-49. Male suicide rates are terrifyingly high, and we feel that by using the Newcastle United brand, we can help them tackle an issue that otherwise they might not talk about. 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime, and it’s important that society knows how it could support someone who finds themselves in that situation.
What are the main problems you face in getting the message across?
The message has been really well received with lots of positive feedback from fans. A potential issue is reaching the fans who don’t come to the match and who don’t use social media, but we have a few ideas to combat this! Due to demand, we have recently developed two toolkits – for businesses and grassroots football clubs, these act as a ‘how-to’ guide in using our campaign materials which will help us to reach more fans. We will also contact local venues such as pubs, barber shops, social clubs etc. to offer our campaign resources to their clientele.
What have you found works well?
The usual activity did have the desired effect in generating interest and raising awareness, but we needed to do more than that. We needed to change mindsets towards mental health – and we wanted to create a space where male fans could feel comfortable learning more about mental health and wellbeing. We set up a Facebook group that has enabled us to create a community for Newcastle United fans who want to share information on health and wellbeing and also offer support to each other. The group grows daily, and although the Foundation does post regularly, we now see members sharing useful tips and information, which is precisely what we hoped we could achieve in that space.
What are the next steps for this campaign?
Our upcoming plans include:
- football tournaments to raise awareness of the campaign
- match day activities
- growth of the Facebook community
- launch of our toolkits
- creation of a promotional video
What measures do you use to gauge whether your campaigns are successful or not?
So far, we have been monitoring our reach and engagement online and the qualitative feedback from those engaging with the campaign. The next steps will be to reach out to the community to get some real impact data about how the campaign has affected the lives of the fans so far.
How significant is it that we can have this conversation sitting in your flat overlooking the sea on a Thursday morning instead of being in the office in town?
Many things are positive about this situation! Being able to be so close to nature and access to lovely walks on a lunch break, flexible working. All have substantial positive effects on your mental health for sure!
If you would like more information about this campaign please contact Ashley Lowe on Ashley.Lowe@nufc.co.uk