The founder of Liverpool Football Therapy club has predicted a bleak future for mental health awareness if the club is forced to shut down, through lack of finances. Colin Dolan has already seen multiple sessions cancelled.

Dolan, a health advocate and suicide survivor set up the initiative three years ago, the small support group evolved into a trophy winning football club.

Liverpool Football Therapy players
Liverpool Football Therapy players posing after a match.

One in four people in the United Kingdom suffer from mental health issues and with only a generous week in May and a single day in October dedicated to raising awareness, the suicide rates continue to go up.

The Northwest saw a significant increase in 2021 with almost three more people per 100,000 taking their own lives compared to 2020.

Organisations have been set up across the nation to tackle the growing problem and help the millions of people who are brave enough to ask for it, and one of those is Liverpool Football Therapy (LFT).

“It was for anyone – whether they’re working, whether they’re diagnosed, unemployed, it didn’t make any difference,” Dolan said, “It meant there was no waiting list, no referral system, just come along when you please and have a kick about.”

The club have won multiple domestic and overseas tournaments and usually offer two sessions per week, one in South Liverpool at Goals Speke on a Tuesday and another farther north at Goals Netherton on a Wednesday. However, this is now being reduced down to just the one.

The organisation was stripped of its community interest company (CIC) status earlier in the year, which used to provide the essential funding they needed to operate at the most basic level, as Dolan admitted to neglecting the work in order to maintain it.

The 57-year-old says the worst period for his mental health fell around the same time that the government were setting deadlines on important documents and that the news of what it meant came soon after his most thought-out and close-call suicide attempt back in February.

“I came out of the hospital and after about four or five weeks, I started going back to football but anything other than that I ignored. I was trying to concentrate on what was going on in my head and it was a horrible, horrible, painful time physically too.

“But because of the missed deadlines, I just got a letter through the post one day and they told me I’ve been struck off.”

The club instantly lost almost £2000 in financing, a sum that would’ve covered around 10 weeks of matches and have received nothing since.

Dolan is terrified about what the impact will be if LFT have to move forward with just the one session or even close permanently, after having spoken to some of the players about the cancellations.

“I’ve already started seeing it. People in tears, [they are] really worried about their own mental health. For many of them, it was the first time in such a long time to have something to go do regularly, to get a bit of exercise and to have that camaraderie.

“I’ve had at least four people in tears and offering all sorts to raise the money.”

The club charge employed attendees £3 per session and the unemployed £2 but, with an average of 15 players turning up on any given day, the total falls far too short of the £100 facility fee.

Dolan has already taken the first steps to raise the money and buy his organisation some valuable time whilst they attempt to regain government support.

“I’m doing a sponsored walk from Anfield Stadium to Celtic Park,” he said as a lifelong fan of the Glasgow club.

“We’re also going to arrange a corporate football tournament so we’ll get some local businesses involved. The facilities have been donated and a few referees have said they’re willing to give up the time to do it free of charge.”

Dolan has also set up a Go Fund Me page in hopes of raising £3000, but unless they can secure some stable long-term funding, the organisation and its people will share some serious concerns over its future.