Back in 2019, we started working with Minds United Football club, who provide an outlet to play football in a safe space in order to support people’s mental wellbeing. Through Westway CT’s Member’s Support fund (once known as the Innovation Fund), we helped the club with transport credits to help them get tournaments. You can see the original article and interviews here. We have continued to work with them ever since. After 3 years of a successful partnership, we revisited them to find out how they continue to help the local community, and how Westway CT’s group transport services and training have helped them grow and thrive.
In our visit to the club, not only did we interview Tarik Kaidi, Minds United Founder, and CEO. We also interviewed several of their staff members who were Minds United Members and now have become Minds United staff: Joseph Verdon (Assistant Manager); Vicki Mcgarrigle (Communications Officer and Co Female team coach); and Paul Menacer (Head Coach). We also interviewed two of their members, Aisha and Myra.
In the interviews, we found out how Minds United has grown, how Minds United helps them, as well as how Westway CT’s group transport helps.
About Minds United
Minds United provides football and sporting services for the community to help improve wellbeing through sports. They also seek to tackle isolation and connect the community.
Since 2019, Minds United has seen outstanding success in its aim of helping the local community and improving people’s welfare through sport. At the start, Minds United only had one team and played on a small pitch of Horniman’s Pleasance, but despite the pandemic, they have grown to help even more individuals in the local community. They now have 4 teams (2 male and 2 female), a full community program at Westway sports centre. They now take part in 3 different leagues. Minds United has also expanded to run tennis sessions to provide members with more variety in sport to help with their mental wellbeing.
Importance of Community Transport to Minds United
Tarik Kaidi, Minds United CEO when interviewed, expressed Westway CT’s community transport importance to Minds Uniteds growth.
“If it wasn’t for Westway CT, providing the amount of minibuses they’re able to offer, we wouldn’t be able to take so many teams to our league games and to our tournaments.”
Tarik states that because of Westway CT they have been able to increase participation in the community for football and go to further afield destinations for matches/tournaments such as Surrey and Portsmouth.
We also asked Tarik what community transport means to him. He emphasised that community transport meant a lot to him, and how nice it was to travel together as a team. He also stated,
“So without community transport, we would be… some people wouldn’t be able to attend, they wouldn’t be able to afford to attend.”
Tarik went on to, “thank Westway CT for their professionalism and everything”. He stated the things like not charging Minds United for late cancellations outside of Minds Uniteds control were really helpful. He finished by stating that Minds United are, “really grateful for the support… we’d be lost without Westway CT.”
The Assistant Manager Joe corroborated the importance of Westway CT’s transport as well. He described how before, using Westway CT group members were having to give lifts to each other to get to matches as many members couldn’t afford to travel by themselves. He stated how this was a struggle, as it was a lot of traveling to ask members to do in their own vehicles. Joe went to say going on Westway CT’s minibuses to tournaments was like, “one happy family going on a day trip.”.
This highlights how affordable local community transport helps local groups and individuals to access a wider range of opportunities and improve their quality of life.
How Minds United Helps
Through the interviews with the staff and members, we wanted to find out how the club helps them individually. We found that Mind United impact was positive all round and helped members in different ways.
For Aisha, a member, she stated how Minds United helped improve her tackling in football and improve in her scoring of goals. Myra, another member, was emphatic about how Minds United helped her. She talked about her Bi-Polar, and how before she was feeling isolated explaining how she thought she was, “a weirdo and stuff” and questioning “Why am I thinking these thoughts?”. Though through Minds United, she interacted with other members and as a result she is feeling a lot more positive.
Minds United members and staff across the board expressed the positive effect it had on them. Vicki expressed how she was in the best shape of her life, and how taking part helped her confidence, mental health and wellbeing. Further to this, Paul expressed how it helped him improve his communication with others and mental wellbeing. He also talked positively about how being with other people with similar mental health issues was also helpful. Finally, the Joe, the assistant coach, expressed how he used to hate everyone. Yet, through Minds United, he has changed. His confidence has improved and how at the club he loves everyone and he is a better man because of Minds United.
Dealing With Lock Down
Lock down was hard for us all, but for Minds United members, and staff, it was a particular challenge. Paul described how lock down was difficult for him. He described how not being able to see friends and other people from Minds United, and how it negatively affected his mental health. Vicki also described how the pandemic was a struggle, but fortunately due to it, she found and joined Minds United.
Returning to Tournaments
When asked how they felt about being able to return to tournaments again, all of Mind’s interviewees expressed how good it was to return. Vicki described returning to tournaments as “brilliant and how it felt like a new lease on life again”. Paul described how he felt mixed about returning, as it was hard at first to get back to the same level as before the pandemic. Though he added it was really rewarding to play competitive football and to return to some level of normality. Myra described how she felt really excited at being able to return. She said how Minds United felt like family, and going to tournaments together was really nice.
Benefits of Travelling Together
All of Mind’s members and staff expressed that traveling together before matches was important. Paul expressed how they could play music to get the team going and be in good spirits and a good frame of mind. Tarik added to this by expressing that the ability to socialise and bond before the game is really important. He also stated that some players for earlier matches may be tired, or are on medication, so being able to travel together allows them all to check on each other’s well being. Tarik expressed how traveling together helps their timings to be more organised and that some players on their own can’t afford to travel alone.
Travel Together and Build Stronger Bonds
As you can see from Minds United, many community groups benefit from community transport. Not only does it save group’s money, but it helps get everyone their on time and with less hassle. With Minds United and many other groups, we have found that our group transport helps them to build stronger bonds between members.
Traveling shouldn’t be troublesome, so let us help take the stress out of it. See how little it could cost your group to go to your favorite places. Get an estimate now!
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