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Together, doing things differently

Together, doing things differently

FC United of Manchester is delighted to announce that we have signed a sponsorship deal with US-based health and social care consultancy firm Helgerson Solutions Group that will see them become the sponsors of our mental well-being team for the 2019-20 season. They will also sponsor Kate O’Gara from our women’s team and the men’s team’s Northern Premier League match at home to Basford United on Tuesday 15th October.

It’s probably not immediately obvious why a consultancy firm from the other side of the Atlantic would sponsor an English non-league football club but as the company’s founder, Jason Helgerson explains “in the health and social care sector we talk a lot about the social determinants of health.
Good health, both mental and physical, is determined by more than access to health care – it is affected massively by social and community networks and factors such as employment, housing, education and access to leisure facilities. And we reckon that FC United’s mental well-being team represents an excellent example of how exercise and social networks can support good mental health and we are delighted to be able to support them”.

Helgerson Solutions Group specialises in advising health care organisations on something called “value-based health care” which represents a very different approach to funding hospitals and other healthcare providers that seeks to reward them for helping patients to live healthier lives rather than simply paying them a fixed fee for each patient that they treat or the size of the population they serve. The “value” is derived by measuring these outcomes against what it actually costs to deliver them.

And, as Jason points out, FC United’s mental well-being football team represents a wonderful example of how doing something differently can not only improve the health of people with mental health problems but also save the already hard-pressed NHS a bob or two.
Mental health problems can affect anyone with one in four of us experiencing a mental illness in any year and more than 10% of the population suffering from depression at any one time.
Playing football can help people to recover, help to manage symptoms and improve the quality of people’s lives by making friends, keeping fit and staying healthy. And it can help too in breaking the stigma that surrounds mental illness by bringing people together and making them feel part of their community.

The Mental Health Foundation reckon that for people with depression “studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as medication or psychotherapy” in relieving stress. Antidepressant drugs are estimated to cost the NHS more than £5 million per week and an appointment with a psychotherapist will typically cost the local NHS a couple of hundred pounds but playing football on a regular basis with a group of mates costs a mere fraction of that – good news not only for our mental well-being footballers but the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership who are in charge of the city’s £6 billion budget for health and social care.
Indeed Jason Helgerson has strong links with Greater
Manchester’s health sector having worked closely with local NHS organisations for several years now and, in doing so, has shared his experience of running the New York state government’s Medicaid programme that assists people on low incomes with their medical costs. It was on one of these visits to Manchester that Jason first heard about FC United and its history and he describes how “it really struck a chord for me as I grew up in Wisconsin supporting my home town football team the Green Bay Packers who are the only non-profit, community-owned team in the four major professional sports leagues in the US.
The relationship between team and community is stronger than any other in American football with more than 360,000 fans owning a stake in the club which is currently ranked as the world’s 27th most valuable sports team with an estimated value of $2.6 billion. So something for FC United to aim for there!”. Back home in Albany in New York state Jason, along with a company colleague, also coaches an under 5’s football team and says that he is “hoping to pick up some tips” from FC’s management team when he visits Broadhurst Park for our match against Basford United.

The investment by Helgerson Solutions Group will make a huge difference for the mental well-being team, not only will it be sufficient to pay for pitch hire for the whole 2019-20 season but it will also fund ten monthly coaching sessions for the team delivered by a qualified coach together with kit, balls and four friendly matches to be played at Broadhurst Park against other mental well-being teams.
FC’s sport development manager Tom Conroy described how “the mental well-being side has grown from five or six players to a regular 20 each week and provides a really important session for all of the players” and added that “this sponsorship from Helgerson Solutions Group is very much appreciated and will not only enable us to move on to the next level but will integrate the team into the wider club, support the development of individual players and provide them with competitive fixtures”.

In addition the company will sponsor midfielder Kate O’Gara from our women’s team. Which is rather apt as not only is Kate a big advocate of mental health and well-being but is also no stranger to the US sporting scene having spent four years playing football in Texas.

All in all we think this is wonderful news not only for FC United, our mental well-being team and our new partners Helgerson Solutions Group but also for our wider community and the local NHS. Not only that but the investment by an American company in our football club stands in direct contrast to the American family who persist in treating another red-shirted Mancunian footballing institution as a cash machine.

FC United’s chair Adrian Seddon said of the deal “it is well documented that the catalyst for the formation of FC United was the 2005 takeover of Manchester United by an American family. As a club which prides itself in putting supporters and the community at the heart of everything we do and at a time of heightened dissatisfaction with the sums being taken out of Manchester United by its owners, it delights me to be able to announce this partnership with Helgerson Solutions Group who share in our values and aim to make a difference in North Manchester. I’d therefore like to offer a warm welcome to Jason Helgerson, Sarah Crick and Juliette Price from HSG to the match against Basford United, which they are also sponsoring, and look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with them."

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First Posted ~ 12:10 Wed 16 Oct 2019
News ID ~ 8524
Last Updated ~ 20:29 Thu 7 Nov 2019