Clarets fans were encouraged to open up and talk about their feelings as local Samaritans joined forced with Burnley FC in a pioneering project at the weekend.
More than 15,000 fans attending the Burnley v Reading clash heard key messages from the charity at an awareness-raising day at Turf Moor to coincide with the launch of the Samaritans national free-to-call number 116 123, which will not appear on your phone bill.
And the big day got the backing of former Burnley FC player Clarke Carlisle and high profile Clarets fan Alastair Campbell, who have both spoken openly about their battles with mental health issues.
Ahead of the match, which saw the Clarets lose 1-2, Burnley players warmed up in Samaritans T-shirts, while screens inside the stadium’s public and corporate areas promoted the charity’s free helpline number.
Hospitality guests in the 1882 Lounge dug deep to bid for signed team shirts and a signed football and fans donated to a collection before kick-off.
Hosting the event on behalf of the Samaritans was Ian Hartley, Director of the charity’s Pendle, Burnley, Craven and Rossendale branch, based at Nelson.
He said: “The 96 volunteers at the local branch of the Samaritans dealt with more than 30,000 appeals for help last year ... whether that’s telephone calls, letters, emails or poeple calling in at the branch in Market Square, Nelson - that’s double the number of people at Turf Moor on Saturday.”
He went on: “I’d like to say a big thankyou to everyone who supported the awareness day. It was a great day - and could only have been made better by a win for the Clarets!
“We hope fans will always remember the Samaritans are there for them, round the clock, every day of thhe year. We’re on their side, whatever the issues they’re facing.”
Burnley FC chief executive David Baldwin said the club was proud to promote the Samaritans’ message – that it is a strength not a weakness to talk. He commented: “Everyone goes through times when they could do with some support themselves. We are delighted to support the Samaritans. “
If you need the Samaritans you can contact them free on 116 123 to talk to someone in confidence. You can email the samaritans at email@example.com or visit www.samaritans.org.