Heart of the Holte are pleased to announce a new partnership between ourselves and Mental Health Muscle – a not-for-profit organisation founded by ‘one of our own’ Aaron Clark.
We’ll be working alongside Mental Health Muscle to help raise awareness of the work that they do for those that are struggling with their mental health. We plan to feature them in some of our up-and-coming content and arrange a fundraising event that all of us Villa fans can get behind.
To find out a little more about Aaron and his ties to the Villa, and much more on Mental Health Muscle and what he’s wanting to achieve from this exciting collaboration, I recently sat down with him in order to capture his thoughts:-
How long have you been following Aston Villa?
“I’ve been a Villa fan for 25 years. It’s a bit of a strange one though as there is no clear line to supporting this magnificent club through family links. I sort of just fell in love with the colours, the stadium and the team – and the rest as they say is history.
I have followed the club intensely since my teenage years watching games on the television over in Germany where my father served in the RAF. My childhood split between time over in Germany and in the UK in North Yorkshire. This passion stayed with me into adult life and right now it’s great to see Villa on the up after a tough few years.”
What Villa memory sticks out for you?
“My best Villa memory was away at the Riverside stadium back in February 2003 – a crushing 5-2 victory. At that time I lived not too far from Middlesbrough so I visited there most seasons. Darius Vassell opened the scoring and Joey Gudjonsson bagged a cracker on his debut. It was the first time my Dad and I had been to a Villa game together and so that made it all the more special. I remember it like it was yesterday.”
Can you tell us a bit more about Mental Health Muscle…
“Mental Health Muscle is a not-for-profit organisation founded in January 2018 with a key mission statement; to raise awareness of mental health issues using fitness and physical exercise as our vehicle for change and empowerment. We support individuals that are experiencing mental health difficulties through positive education and interaction.
After 15 years in sports and fitness added with the experience that I’ve gained from working with vulnerable people from disadvantaged communities that are struggling with their mental health, I felt it time to bring my two passions together in order to raise awareness of mental health, whilst using sport as a key platform to improve our mindset and education around mental illness and ensuring that we are not alone in suffering. I use the gym as my personal sanctuary and therapy for my own mental health and I wish to give others that same opportunity.
Thanks to our fantastic team of volunteers we operate right across the UK, running fundraising events, community projects and facilitating educational awareness workshops in schools, gyms, sports clubs and the like.
All of the money that we raise goes towards sponsoring and mentoring individuals that are struggling with their mental health and mental illness by funding annual paid memberships in gyms so that they can work on their wellbeing and recovery journey.”
With a record number of footballers seeking mental health support; how is football’s attitude to mental health changing?
“Mental health is everyone’s responsibility – we all have it. Whether we are working in a law firm, as a store manager or even as a footballer, the mental aspects of our lives is ever so important to look at and look after. Mental health in football is something that has always been around, it hasn’t just suddenly appeared over the last few years, but it’s only now that players, coaches, the clubs, the football authorities and the fans are starting to talk about it more and therefore raising the profile of the mental aspect of the game.
It has been incredible and truly inspiring to see players coming out and talking about their mental health journeys – all of which are very important to ensure that it isn’t continued to be missed or avoided.
More support is needed for those who are struggling and through football, a world favourite and national favourite sporting platform, we are able to reach out more and use it as a positive aid to help others.
The pressures of the game, the lifestyles that come with being a professional footballer and the intensity of it all from the fans and the media. All of this creates a whirlwind of emotions, impact and feeling – which ultimately has influence on our wellbeing. We have to continue to raise the profile of mental health in all streams of life but football is such a solid foundation to ensure that keep on doing that.”
And lastly, what are you hoping to achieve by partnering up with Heart of the Holte?
“It is very important that when two well known organisations and groups like Mental Health Muscle and Heart of the Holte are sharing the same visions in regards to community impact and involvement, that collaboration can only strengthen and enhance the outcome. I am a great believer in #StrongerTogether – which is our motto at Mental Health Muscle and it speaks exactly that. Partnerships like ours can achieve great things, with more reach, more interactions, more awareness and more support.
With Aston Villa being a club very close to my heart personally, I see no reason why we shouldn’t achieve our goals together and try to support those within the Villa fan base with their wellbeing and education surrounding mental health through a sport that we all love and hold dear. This partnership is something that really excites me and I am looking forward to putting plans in place to do what we can and to the very best of our capacity.
A huge aspect of our work is community dependent and the donations that we have received from the public over the past 12 months have been incredible. 100% of what we receive goes back into communities to help support those in difficult mental health situations. We very much appreciate the support of all Villa fans in ensuring that we can continue the work that we do, and hopefully, specifically in part for the Villa fan base themselves.”
Rest-assured that Heart of the Holte are equally as overjoyed as Aaron about this partnership and know that together we can achieve great things. Stay tuned for further announcements!
Written by Ryan Pitcher