Dylan’s journey in lockdown with Albion in the Community
Dylan began attending Albion in the Community’s wellbeing football sessions several years ago after experiencing a period of challenging mental health which culminated in him being admitted to a mental health hospital.
Since then he has worked hard to overcome those challenges and now regularly volunteers with the charity as a football coach at sessions for people with a disability, keen to help other people find the support he found so vital during those difficult times.
Sadly, just before lockdown, Dylan’s mum died of cancer. Living on his own and unable to access his usual support network because of lockdown restrictions, Dylan faced the prospect of having to deal with that awful grief on his own and at a time when many people were already experiencing challenges with their mental health resulting from lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The team at Albion in the Community were determined to make sure Dylan could get the support he needed and arranged regular online catch-ups via Zoom, both with his fellow coaches and also some of the players he helps support. They also used online fitness sessions to help him stay active throughout lockdown and visited him every week to provide him with some of the 12,500 free meals the charity distributed throughout Sussex during lockdown.
For the charity, it was important to still be there for Dylan, just like he has been there for many other people in his role as a volunteer coach.
Reflecting on the support that he received during the lockdown, Dylan said “Lockdown had been tough for many reasons but Albion in the Community has been brilliant. It has helped me remain both physically and mentally well and it has been great to stay in touch with all the coaches and players”.
“I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at Albion in the Community and to the players I coach who, no matter what they struggle with, inspire me to do my job and support them.”
Dylan is doing well. He now has an FA coaching qualification and has ambitions of becoming a professional football coach and possibly working abroad.
Paul Brackley, Albion in the Community’s disability manager says the support provided to Dylan during the lockdown period is a great example of how the charity has been able to help during a period of restrictions over the summer when group football activities had to stop.
“When we went into lockdown we were really clear that it was our main priority to keep in contact with as many people in our community who have been involved in our football sessions as possible”.
“Our staff have been tremendous, checking in on a regular basis, delivering meals, offering online fitness sessions and ensuring the welfare of participants all across Sussex.
Player’s from the club’s men’s first team, Dan Burn and Bernardo, also got involved to help out and boost morale over the summer, giving their time to be part of a special player question and answer session hosted via Zoom for participants of the disability football programme.
Albion in the Community is now able to restart its programme of sessions for people with a disability, albeit with new protocols in line with FA and government guidance to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
Paul explains “It’s really important for our players to get back to playing football together and so many of them have missed the social connection they get from playing football.
“For people like Dylan, he’ll be back to doing what he loves best – helping other people”.
There are now disability-specific and inclusive football sessions running on a weekly basis in Brighton, Eastbourne and Worthing with special protocols are in place to make sure all of the sessions are safe for players and coaches.