The artwork was created by participants who attended a six-week course provided by the Manchester United Foundation’s health team in partnership with Start in Salford, a service which supports members of the local community who may suffer from mental health difficulties. Participants included Start service users and others who attend the Foundation’s ‘Improve Your Mood’ men’s health football sessions in association with Manchester Mencap.
The former Scottish international was amazed by the result: “I’m so pleased I was asked to unveil the mosaic; it’s exceptional and I think it sums up Salford and Manchester United.” He continued, “This project has shown me that the work of the Foundation is vital to help those in need and that The Cliff is using its resources to give back to the local community.”
It is forty years since Buchan first trained at the legendary ground and he also commented on the facilities and his memories of the 1970s: “Today I’ve been back to see the old dressing room, the old treatment room and the old gym and it’s brought back a lot of memories. Forty years ago we thought the facilities here were amazing but compared to what the players have today, the Cliff is like the first plane and Carrington is like a Jumbo Jet!”
The course was led by Wigan-based artist Mark Mennell who worked with the participants to decide on the focus of the mosaic and assisted in the creation. Start in Salford service user Lesley Russell was instrumental in developing the artwork to incorporate the Foundation’s key messages ‘Motivation’, ‘Education’ and ‘Inspiration’ alongside iconic imagery from throughout the Club’s successful history. She commented, “After the first session I went home and thought, ‘It’s not just about Manchester United, it’s the Foundation we’re doing this for.’ So I researched the Foundation and brought its message into play.”
Lesley continued to discuss the positive effects the course has had on her: “I’m not very good around people, especially strangers, and it causes me anxiety to go into places that I’ve not been to before, so I’ve learnt that by challenging yourself and forcing yourself to do different, you overcome challenges slowly. To come into a male orientated world was daunting but everyone has been great and it has helped me to get up and leave my house and do something worthwhile.”
Steve Hoy, Health Project Coordinator for the Manchester United Foundation, said, “The project has proved to be a resounding success in bringing people together and helping to break down some of the misconceptions surrounding mental health.”
For more information about the health groups held at The Cliff please contact Steve Hoy on 0161 708 9451 or email Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org
To view the full gallery of images from the unveiling ceremony and the sessions leading up to the event please visit our Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/QY3At3