We are dedicating the No5 at the heart of our 150th year as a football club to one Reading-based charity for the 2021-22 campaign.
No5 Young People is a charity which provides counselling and preventative outreach mental health services to children and young people aged 11 and 25 years who live, work or study within the RG postcode area.
The charity delivers open access, self-referral services to any child or young person who contacts them, aiming to offer help at the very earliest point of asking – intervening when issues first arise and supporting young people at the first time of asking to prevent those struggles or difficulties escalating.
While Reading Football Club were founded in 1871, No5 began life as an organisation in 1971 – so while we honour our 150th anniversary next season, the charity will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in the very same year.
50 years ago, when No5 was starting up, Reading finished in 16th place in Division Four of the Football League - behind Southport, Workington and fourth tier title-winners Grimsby Town, two division below Oxford United and Swindon Town. We have come quite a way since.
And during the last 50 years, No5 has also grown immeasurably - evolving its services to meet the changing needs of local children and young people. Importantly that change has been made by listening to young people via its network of young people in the form of its Young Ambassadors Scheme.
That scheme has proven especially important during the difficulties of the pandemic and no doubt it will be vital in helping No5 effectively meet the needs of children and young people in Reading as we all emerge from long periods of isolation and lockdown restrictions and look to support each other with the challenges that lie ahead.
Across 2021-22, Reading Football Club and its fans will be here to support No5 and the excellent work they do within our local community on a daily basis.
In our 150th anniversary campaign, we wanted to pick one charity as our partner. It was important that the charity was making its mark in our town, our community. It was important that the charity was speaking to a young demographic…the next generation of Royals supporters. And it was important that addressing mental health was its purpose; mental wellbeing has been a central theme within football in recent years, whether via the EFL’s partnership with MIND, the FA’s ‘Heads Up’ campaign or the incredible work our own Community Trust does to tackle mental health in the work it does under the banner of its four key pillars: social inclusion; education; health, and sports participation.
No5 seemed the perfect choice.
Increasing numbers of children and young people are asking for help with their emotional and mental health; No5 has seen a year-on-year increase in the number of young people asking for help. In the last year, 760 young people and their families have asked for help. This is an increase of 162% on the same period in 2019/20. The expectation is that the demand for mental health support will further increase as the effects of lockdown continue to be felt by young people in the community.
To address this call for support, No5 is looking to enhance its preventative and outreach services whist developing new programmes, and aims to fund qualified, specialist counsellors to provide more sessions of support throughout 2021-22.
And we want to help.
The partnership will see No5 and Reading Football Club work together to highlight the importance of mental wellbeing, raise awareness of the issues mental health can cause and most importantly signpost young people to the support mechanisms in place to intervene and address those issues.
The partnership is also designed to help raise vital funds for the fabulous work undertaken by No5 thanks in part to auctions, matchday collections and fan fundraising appeals or initiatives as well as through events in the 150th anniversary calendar we hope to deliver to supporters during our 150th anniversary campaign.
Alyson Wylding, No5’s Director, said about the partnership: "We are delighted to have been chosen as Reading Football Club’s Charity Partner for our 50th anniversary year and their 150th. This is a tremendous milestone for us both. Together we can highlight mental health, how to stay mentally well, how to spot the signs that you might need support and how to ask for help."