A North Norfolk-based not for profit organisation, is working nationally enabling rugby clubs to support players with mental health issues.

Eastern Daily Press: Tessa BeecroftTessa Beecroft (Image: Aleks Pawlik)

Now hosted by North Walsham Rugby Club, #GiveARuck was founded by Tessa Beecroft in 2019.

The need for the organisation came to Tessa, a sports therapist qualified in community mental health and psychiatry, whilst treating injured players.

“I’d hear their concerns but realised there was no support framework for them,” she said.

The pandemic has been a driver in #GiveARuck’s growth into a nationwide organisation with more than 30 clubs signed up to deliver the “#GiveARuck pledge” and invitations to lead workshops.

Eastern Daily Press: Tessa Beecroft leading training at North WalshamTessa Beecroft leading training at North Walsham (Image: Richard Polley)

Tessa joined North Walsham’s medical support team last year and is grateful for the club’s encouragement.

“They immediately showed interest in the organisation’s mission," she said. "Now the culture of encouraging people to open up runs right through; I’m involved with all ages.”

Players help fundraise and spread word of its work.

To meet #GiveARuck’s pledge, clubs have to appoint an ambassador to promote key messages. They also need to train a mental health frst aider: the course (https://mhfaengland.org) teaches how to identify, understand and help someone experiencing mental health issues. Finally, they attend a workshop which helps participants to start those difficult conversations and reduce the stigma of mental health. Pledge completed, clubs become an official #GiveARuck affiliated club, receiving ongoing support.

Eastern Daily Press: North Washam's ambassador, Jake DuffieldNorth Washam's ambassador, Jake Duffield (Image: Hywel Jones)

Jake Duffield is North Walsham’s ambassador.

“I’ve had mental health issues in the past, but someone at the club helped me through them, so giving back is a big part of my motivation," he said. "I know what it’s like, I’ve been there and come through it. Making the initial step to admit to someone you have difficulties is the big thing. I’m here to listen, signpost, and ensure key messages get through.”

Tessa stresses that #GiveARuck is there for every rugby club. Nevertheless, her focus is on community rugby.

“I hope to see a mental health first aider at every community club,” says Tessa who is also looking for more 'official ambassadors' from the professional game to support the organisation’s work.

Full details of #GiveARuck at https://givearuck.com or email info@givearuck.com