Offload programme highlighted as a sporting sensation in recent major study

Rugby League Cares’ health programme Offload – which Salford Red Devils are a founding member of – has been praised for its engagement with men and mental wellbeing, in a major academic study.

The research, carried out by Edge Hill University, can be found here and outlines the programme’s success in changing and saving lives, providing the men involved with a welcoming space to talk about their mental health.

Salford Red Devils Foundation are partnered with Rugby League Cares and State of Mind, who also support Offload, to give local men the opportunity to go behind the scenes of rugby league, learn the mental fitness techniques of professional players and be supported to develop their own winning mindset.

Offload is a 10-fixture season at the A J Bell stadium where men join forces with rugby league players, past and present, to understand the challenges of the game. The ability to deal with injury, moving to a new club, tactical changes, retirement and new careers beyond the game are discussed along with a player’s ability to juggle the everyday demands of life whilst performing at the top level.

Speaking on the Offload programme, Salford Red Devils foundation director Neil Blackburn said: This programme has been extremely successful and really made a substantial difference to our local community. We have engaged with hundreds of men who would not have engaged with traditional medicalised institutions. It has been a pleasure working with RLCares and other partners on this highly rewarding programme.

Our physical and mental health is so important, especially in such uncertain times. Programmes such as Offload are an essential part of the local provision an enhance the existing services.”

Sport and physical activity professor at Edge Hill University, Andy Smith, one of the three researchers into the Offload programme, said: “There has been a rapid growth in community sport and mental health programmes for men, but the key design characteristics of these programmes, and the roles played by delivery staff in their conception and development, have not yet been systematically or widely studied. Our research on the Offload programme begins to rectify this.

“Among other things, our analysis showed that men clearly preferred a non-clinical approach to discussing their mental health, often in less stigmatising environments like professional sports stadia, and using sporting analogies to support self-care.

“Having the sessions led by former professional sports people working alongside mental health and community sport experts made it a safe space and allowed participants to express themselves fully. This, in turn, provided great outcomes for the men involved.”

One participant in the programme said: “Some of them [the presenters] are people I’ve admired because I am a rugby league fan. When I’ve seen what they’ve been through, it made it easier for me to offload my problems in front of a few people, which I wouldn’t have done before.”

Emma Goldsmith, head of community at Rugby League Cares, said: “The power sport has to transform the lives of participants is well documented but the success we have seen in making transformational change to the quality of life of the men who have engaged in Offload is remarkable.

Offload is enabling us to connect with an audience that health service providers have traditionally found difficult to reach: the feedback we receive from participants is consistently positive and uplifting, and it’s a privilege for everyone at RL Cares to know we’re making such a difference.”

To find out more on how to get involved in Salford’s Offload programmes, email:

State of Mind | World Record Attempt at Halliwell Jones Stadium

Ahead of the Betfred Super League State of Mind round, an attempt to break the record for the World’s Largest Mental Health lesson will take place at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Wednesday June 6 (5-7pm).
Fans are being encouraged to come along and help break the current record of 688, achieved in Chennai, India earlier this year.
State of Mind has joined forces with North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Offload Rugby League and Warrington Wolves for the event.
Former players Danny Sculthorpe, Phil Veivers, Paul Highton, Jimmy Gittins and former referee Ian Smith will be helping to deliver the session.
The lesson will be led by Dr. Phil Cooper MBE (North West Boroughs NHS) from 6pm and will last 35 minutes. There will be pre lesson entertainment from 5pm.
Phil said: “This is a great opportunity to increase awareness of mental fitness and have a great time in a fantastic rugby stadium.”
Emma Goldsmith (Rugby League Cares) who co-ordinates the mental fitness programme running from Warrington Wolves, Widnes Vikings and Salford Red Devils said: “It is going to be a great night to take part in a world record attempt and help people know more about mental health issues in an interactive session in a great location.”
Karl Fitzpatrick, CEO Warrington Wolves, said: “Warrington Wolves are completely behind this world record attempt and try to promote positive mental fitness at every opportunity for all our staff and supporters ”
Rugby league is the only UK sport to theme a round of fixtures around mental fitness, with this year’s round taking place between June 14-17.
Tickets are free and the first 1,000 tickets can be accessed via Eventbrite using the link below:
If you do not wish to register online, you can just turn up on the day.
A State of Mind mental health session exclusive for the media to attend will be held in the build-up to the round on Friday June 1 at the The Salford Stadium, Salford (1pm). All are welcome to attend.

'Offload Social Pub Quiz' tonight at the Dog and Partridge

The Dog and Partridge will be hosting an ‘Offload Social Pub Quiz’ in conjunction with the Salford Red Devils Foundation and Offload tonight.
All Salford Red Devils fans are welcome to go down to the Dog and Partridge and enter a team, compete and attempt to win the pub quiz.
The event is designed to be a social occasion allowing all Salford Red Devils fans to meet up in the lead-up to our opening game of the Betfred Super League season against Wigan Warriors on Friday 2nd February.
The Dog and Partridge will proudly sponsor Salford Red Devils full-back Niall Evalds again throughout the 2018 season. You can read about the Dog and Partridge’s sponsorship here.

‘Offload Social Pub Quiz’ tonight at the Dog and Partridge

The Dog and Partridge will be hosting an ‘Offload Social Pub Quiz’ in conjunction with the Salford Red Devils Foundation and Offload on Monday 22nd January.
All Salford Red Devils fans are welcome to go down to the Dog and Partridge and enter a team, compete and attempt to win the pub quiz.
The event is designed to be a social occasion allowing all Salford Red Devils fans to meet up and enjoy a fun pub quiz in between our final pre-season game and our opening game of the Super League season against Wigan.
The Dog and Partridge will proudly sponsor Salford Red Devils full-back Niall Evalds again throughout the 2018 season. You can read about the Dog and Partridge’s sponsorship here.

New Offload sessions confirmed at The Lighthouse Church

The Salford Red Devils Foundation are delighted to be offering a new block of Offload sessions starting Tuesday 23rd January at the Lighthouse Church.  
A 10-week course will begin on the 23rd January and will run through until April. The sessions with take place at the Lighthouse Church, 12 Coronet Way, Salford, M50 1RE.
You can join forces with past and current players to find out how they cope with the everyday demands of life whilst being a professional athlete.
Discover how they handle criticism, bounce back from injury, manage life in the public eye and what happens when it’s time to hang up their boots.
Offload sessions will pass on the same skills used by elite performers to help you build your own mental fitness and a better mindset.
If you’re interested in getting involved in the sessions contact  
Or for more information on Offload visit their website here, follow @Offload_RL on Twitter or the Salford Red Devils Foundation website here.

Offload’s set of six to get through January

A lot of people feel down in January after possibly overindulging throughout the Festive period, spending too much money and the dark mornings and nights may be getting to you. 
However, Offload, who are heavily supported by the Salford Red Devils Foundation, have put together a Set of Six to get you through January and make the month that little bit easier.

  1. Plan something fun – Get something in your diary that you are looking forward to! It doesn’t have to be expensive or crazy, but it should make you crack into a smile when you think about it! How about catching up with an old friend over a cuppa? Going to see a new film at the cinema? Getting stuck into an old hobby again? Or…making sure you have your tickets bought for the first Salford Red Devils game of the season?
  2. Sweat it out – All the Salford Red Devils players are currently grinding through their gruelling pre-season fitness regimes, but exercise can do more for us than just getting us ‘match ready’. Exercising releases the happy hormone serotonin which boosts our mood. We’re not saying you must start marathon training, just try moving a bit more and pushing your body slightly harder than you have previously!
  3. Fuel your body in the right way – Eating the right foods can be a great pick me up when you are feeling a bit low. Try eating a more balanced diet this month, with plenty of fruit, vegetables and protein. Some great seasonal veg is really cheap at the moment and can help you feel much better about yourself. Real mood boosting foods include Salmon (full of omega-3 which boosts your brain), bananas (full of good energy) and lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas which help stabilise your blood sugar to prevent mid-afternoon sugar crashes.
  4. Give something back – Giving back or doing something for someone else’s benefit automatically makes us feel better about ourselves. How about taking those left-over biscuits or mince pies down to the foodbank? Or offering to volunteer down at the Club over the next few months? You’ll be really surprised how much better it makes you feel.
  5. Spend time with your team mates – Whoever they are; friends, family, Offload mates, work colleagues, lads down the pub, old school mates – touch base with them and catch up on what you have both been up to. Having a bit of banter and spending time connecting to others can really lift your mood. Plan it in, make sure you don’t find an excuse to cancel, and enjoy yourself.
  6. Take notice of all the great things happening for you right now – There will be lots of things, we just sometimes push them to the back of our minds. Think about the good things happening for you; whether it is that you’re in a stable job, or your relationships good, or your team scored at the weekend, or your street is looking tidy, or your new neighbours are great. Whatever it is, notice it, write it down and if you’re feeling a bit down, read it through to remind you of the good things you’ve got going on right now.

For anyone looking for more information regarding Offload or their mental health campaign visit their website here or the Salford Red Devils Foundation site here.
Salford Red Devils Foundation host regular Offload sessions which are open to the public.

Salford Red Devils Foundation launching two more Offload sessions

The Salford Red Devils Foundation have two new sets of Offload sessions due to begin this week.
Brand-new sessions at Salford University will launch on Wednesday 18th October before a second round of sessions will begin at the Probation Office after a successful first 10-week block.
The Red Devils Foundation are also currently running Monday evening (7pm) sessions at the The Salford Stadium with session 7 due to take place tonight (Monday 16th) around life balance.
There are also two Princes Trust groups currently running with one being based at Walkden 6th Form College and another at Salford City Campus.
Ambassadors for  the sessions include former Red Devil Paul Highton, former Salford Coach Phil Vievers, former Rugby League player Danny Sculthorpe and former Rugby League referee Ian Smith.
Offload is a Big Lottery funded project; being run by a number of partners, led by Salford Red Devils, Warrington Wolves and Widnes Vikings with Rugby League Cares. The project content has been devised by State of Mind and supported by Oddballs.
First half has personal stories and evidence based tools to build mental fitness. The second half is interactive, club based activities.
The sessions cover a range of things such as:

  • Basic mental fitness
  • Coping strategies
  • Stess management techniques
  • Mindfulness
  • Five ways to wellbeing
  • Work-life balance
  • Anger management
  • Emotional resilience
  • Solution focused problem solving

For anyone wishing to get involved or attend the Offload session contact Salford Red Devils Season Tickets for the 2018 season are on sale – full details here.

Salford Red Devils attend 'Salford's Big Day Out'

Yesterday the Salford Red Devils spent the afternoon promoting the club and interacting with fans at ‘Salford’s Big Day Out’.
The Salford Red Devils Foundation were at Salford Town Hall from 11am-4pm and gave the people of Salford an idea of the work they are doing in the local community, in schools in and around Salford and further, and promoted schemes such as the Offload Mental Health programme, the Salford Red Devils Education Academy and more.
The Red Devils Foundation also set up an inflatable ‘Sporting Challenge’, provided by partners Koolkarts and Kastles, for people to participate in.
Salford Red Devils mascot Dr Devil was also in attendance, as always, and had pictures with fans and took part in activities with the people of Salford.
The club were also active at last weekend’s ‘Eccles Festival’ and are planned to be at a number of events in and around the local area in the coming weeks.

Offload and START sessions with the Red Devils

Salford Red Devils Foundation are pleased to announce that ‘Offload’ sessions will be returning to the Red Devils and are inviting all males to contact us and come down on Monday 4th September.
The sessions run consecutively for 10 weeks between Monday 4th September and Monday 6th November at 7:30pm in the Red Devils Foundation classrooms at the The Salford Stadium.
The Offload campaign gives participants the chance to go behind the scenes at Salford Red Devils and learn about the mental fitness techniques used by professional players.
Members will then be advised on how to combat these skills in every-day life such as work-life balance, relationships and dealing with stress. Participants will also have access to free training sessions such as fitness sessions and masters.
Offload session will be run alongside START’s Inspiring Minds creative arts sessions which will start on Tuesday 31st October and help with anxiety, negative thoughts and bring about some inner peace.
People can pick from a handful of creative sessions including calligraphy, ceramics, gardening, photography, visual arts and woodturning.
Previous members of the offload sessions have felt an improved wellbeing, self-worth and confidence after attending as well as having the opportunity to interact with others, build relationships, receive help and guidance and get involved in their local community.
More details can be found at the Salford Red Devils Foundation website, click here.
If you are interested in signing up for the sessions then contact the Red Devils Foundation by E-Mailing or phoning 0161 786 1591.

Support Paul Highton on his ride to Wembley

Former Red Devil Paul Highton is cycling from Leeds to Wembley Stadium for Rugby League Cares. The cycle started at Headingley Stadium, 8am on Monday 21st, and the team of 15 riders are set to arrive at the Wembley Legends statue on the eve of the 2017 Challenge Cup final – Friday 25th August.
Highton, speaking to Rugby League cares, said: “Cycling to Rio was one of the best experiences of my life and though the ride to Wembley is shorter, it’s going to be a fantastic five days.
“We may not have to cross the Pyrenees to reach our destination but this ride isn’t about mountain ranges or distance, it’s about overcoming the challenge of negotiating a testing off-road route.
“I’m expecting it to be tough: the bike is heavier for a start; I’m a year older and the nettles and brambles along the way are really going to hurt!
“Firstly, I’d say that nothing is going to be as tough as that first day when you don’t know what to expect your body is going to react to spending eight hours and more in the saddle.
“That feeling is like nothing else,” he added.
“Secondly, it’s important to keep your head up and take in what’s around you: how many people get to experience the beautiful countryside we have in the UK at such close quarters for five days? Soak it up!
“Finally, make sure you have a laugh: yes, there will be dark moments, and days when it feels tough, but the sun always comes out again and riding as a team is a real breeze, especially when you know you’re doing it for such a worthy cause.”
‘Highto’ has made big contributions to the men’s health and wellbeing project ‘Offload’ and has worked in conjunction with club foundations at Salford Red Devils, Widnes Vikings and Warrington Wolves.
Highton said: “Some of the impact Offload has made to the people involved has been nothing short of amazing.
“No-one was quite sure at the start whether men would buy into it but it’s been a transformational experience for a lot of people.
“The bonds that have been forged between the participants are really uplifting to witness. At Warrington, one member of the team said he was worried how he’d fill the void in his life after his 12 fixtures were up and they’ve all agreed to carry on meeting to support each other.
“It’s made a profound difference to the lives of a lot of men who previously felt they had no-where else to turn.”
To sponsor Paul, please visit his Just Giving page –

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