Ward celebrates free tickets to football matches

Posted: 09/07/24

A mental health ward is celebrating scoring free tickets to football matches, thanks to a local club.

Newton Ward at St George’s Park in Morpeth has been gifted tickets from Morpeth Town FC.

Patients and staff have been enjoying four free tickets to the team’s home games and will be cheering them on next season as well.

The idea came about thanks to Mel Christie, who works as a peer supporter on the ward.

Her role is to motivate and support patients, using her own lived experience to share insight, understanding and empathy with others on their recovery journey. Mel works to challenge the stigma around mental health and to raise awareness of what it means to be a patient on a mental health ward.

“One of the lads on the ward was talking about how much he loved football and it just went from there,” Mel explained.

She approached Morpeth Town FC’s owner and chairman Kenny Beattie, who agreed to provide four free tickets for every home game.

Attending the matches has been great for patient wellbeing, Mel says. “They all really enjoy going. The ward can be quieter on a weekend, so it’s good for the lads to get out and about and it gives them some routine.

“A lot of them are interested in football, so this gives them a bit of normality which is so important in recovery.”

Newton Ward is a rehabilitation unit for men with serious mental illness and complex needs who require intensive rehabilitation.

It’s not just the patients who have enjoyed the games, Mel says she’s learnt a lot about football as well!

She added: “When I was ill myself, I wanted to be alone and didn’t want to leave the house. But mixing with others helps so much. Seeing everyone smiling and having a bit of banter at the matches is great. Even if you’re having a bad day, you can go and cheer everyone on.

“There’s no age limit either, it’s something everyone can enjoy.”

They are also looking into the possibility of attending away games next season.

Mel would like to thank the football club for their generosity.

She said: “I’d like to thank everyone at Morpeth Town FC for being so accommodating. Their gift has made such a difference.”