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NHS England boss joins kick about with Hounslow patients’ football team

03 May 2019

Steve Tolan, the NHS in London’s Allied Health Professionals Lead, joined the Hounslow Hawks, a football team made up of local users of mental health services, for a kick about at Goals in Isleworth.

The football session came at the end of a visit by Steve Tolan to West London NHS Trust, to see how the Trust’s occupational therapists help local people with their recovery from mental and physical illness.

Hounslow Hawks is made up of around 16 service users, who have found that regular exercise helps with their mental health as well as their physical health. The friendly match at the end of the training session was close with a final score of 5:6.

Steve Tolan said “It was great to join in and have a friendly kick about. It’s been around 20 years since I played football in trousers and shirt! It was also a great opportunity to chat with the service users and to hear how helpful they find these football sessions.”

Michelle Nielsen, one of the Trust’s Hounslow occupational therapy technicians, said: “It means so much to our service users to have a senior NHS leader join them to share the enjoyment they get from playing football on a regular basis.

“I’m delighted that we were able to showcase to Steve the work we do and the culture of hope and opportunity that flows through everything we do.”

Earlier in the day, Steve Tolan visited the Trust’s Recovery College in Brentford where courses are provided to support service users, carers, families and staff in managing mental health conditions and general wellbeing. He then joined a therapy session in Feltham with a service user which touched on building life skills for independent living, shopping and budgeting.

He also learned about the Trust’s research on the impact of dogs on staff wellbeing, which has resulted in the new addition to the team, Connie the dog.

Steve Tolan added: “I had a great day at West London, sharing some of the good things I’ve seen at other trusts and organisations, and equally, I have taken away some inspiring initiatives and ideas that I can share with others.

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