Premiership touch for African visitors

Premiership touch for African visitors

A group of officials from a town in Uganda, Africa that has been blighted by war has been welcomed to Sheffield in premiership style.

As part of a three-week visit, a result of work by staff at Sheffield Care Trust (SCT), to build links between mental health services in the city and those in Adjumani, Uganda, was a stop at newly promoted Sheffield United.

The visitors, Dr Bernard Opar, medical director at Adjumani District Hospital, Robert Odendi, psychiatric officer in Adjumani and J. B. Opio from Nyarima, a mental health care organisation in Africa, attended Bramall Lane for the recent match between the Blades and Reading.

Adjumani, in northern Uganda, has been badly affected by conflict and there have been tens of thousands of deaths, children kidnapped and continuing violence. The area is now faced with high levels of depression, unprecedented levels of suicide and much alcohol abuse. Services can be accessed by under half of the population geographically and, in practice, a smaller proportion due to poverty.

Kevan Taylor, Chief Executive of Sheffield Care Trust said: “As one aspect of the work that is going on, the Town Council in Adjumani is trying to use football as a means of bringing young people together from across communities. Having the support of a premiership football club has been a great boost to everyone involved in the partnership.”

Mark Fenoughty, Chief Operating Officer at Sheffield United, said: “Sheffield United has supported the work in Adjumani from the beginning by supplying Adjumani Town FC with a set of Blades’ kits. In return, they renamed their ground ‘Bramall Lane’. It is an honour to welcome our Ugandan guests to the original ‘Bramall Lane’ – we are delighted to be involved in this partnership and admire the work that is been undertaken by Kevan and his team.”

Sheffield Care Trust staff have already made two trips to Adjumani but this is the first time Ugandan officials have visited Sheffield to see what services are available in the UK.

As part of the trip the guests have met Clive Betts MP, a keen supporter of the partnership, and visited a number of SCT services including the inpatient units at the Longley Centre, the Crisis Assessment and Home Treatment team and the Community Mental Health teams. In addition, they will meet with the mental health charity RETHINK, the African-Caribbean Mental Health Association and Somali Mental Health Association.

They have also been welcomed by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Jackie Drayton at a reception at the Town Hall.

Says Kevan: “This is a real long-term partnership – SCT has things to learn from Uganda and we have expertise in training and service provision that our Ugandan colleagues very much welcome.”

Dr Opar said “We are very grateful to Sheffield Care Trust and Kevan Taylor for making this partnership become a reality – it has been a wonderful learning experience for us to come to England and see how mental health services work over here.

“Adjumani has endured many troubles as a result of the ongoing war so Sheffield’s support, and that of Sheffield United Football Club, will help us go a long way in fostering unity and togetherness amongst our communities.”

Photo Caption: (from left to right) – Robert Odendi, Joe Taylor, SCT’s Kevan Taylor, Michael Tonge, JB Opio and Dr. Bernard Opar.

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Name: Alison Tinsley