Back Onside x Hibernian FC partnership

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Hibernian FC partnership

Back Onside announce new partnership with Scottish Premiership team Hibernian FC.     

Back Onside are delighted to announce an exciting new partnership with Scottish Premiership team Hibernian Football Club. Having already worked with the club over the last few years, the partnership was the natural next step for both sides and Hibernian are now the second Premiership team to partner up with Back Onside. With aligned values surrounding mental health within the football industry, both sides look forward to working together to achieve their shared goals and promote positive mental health within the club and beyond. 

The partnership has been the product of some great work between Libby and Ben Kensell who has been welcoming and supportive of the initiative. Lee Johnson has also been a great driving force behind this, showing his ongoing support and as part of this, Libby has now been basing herself at the club one day a week to allow the staff and players to familiarise themselves with her and get to more about the charity and what support and professional services can be provided.  

It cannot be underestimated just how vital a role this partnership will be as it will assist in reaching not only those within the game but also the wider community. Over the past 5 years, there have been a vast number of players and staff at many clubs in Scotland and beyond being supported by the charity. The value of having a safe and confidential space away from the clubs can be massive for any player or staff member as it means they have somewhere else to turn to and be able to open up and it does not affect their day-to-day working life. In addition, the issues faced by players and staff extend to daily life and problems or struggles beyond football. From this point of view, the professional staff at Back Onside are experienced at dealing with people and issues from a plethora of backgrounds and not just sport.  

As part of the partnership, Back Onside will work closely with Hibs management team to support players and staff with their mental health, hold regular changing room chats, host mental health workshops, and provide training such as Mental Health First Aid. Hibernian FC will commit to supporting Back Onside and the work they do, making sure the club is a safe space to talk openly about mental health and importantly, this also offers a safe and confidential space for players and staff to find support.   

Hibernian will also fundraise for Back Onside throughout the year and help to raise awareness for mental health within the football industry and beyond which is vital in the ongoing crisis around mental health which Back Onside strive to give their continuous support to. Again, any funds raised will go directly towards helping support those struggling with their mental health and this is key to sustaining the charity as they are solely reliant on donations and currently receive no government funding.  

Libby Emmerson, Back Onside Founder said: 

“We are so excited to finally be able to announce our partnership with Hibernian Football Club and are really looking forward to watching it grow.   We have been working closely with Hibernian FC over the last  few years and knew we shared similar values and goals with the club when it comes to mental health. We are passionate about making clubs a safe space for players to be able to open up should they need to talk and are delighted to be partnering with our second Premiership team.

After working with several football clubs over the last 5 years, we recognised there was a real need for our services and support prompting us to launch our Positive Pitches campaign last year. I have seen first hand how the work we have done has helped so many people, particularly within the football community and the positive feedback we have received from players and managers alike has been a great testimony and reminder of how vital a role we play in supporting people. The outcomes it has had for the individuals and the teams around them has been incredible.

We have since partnered with various teams in Scotland to promote positive mental health within the footballing world, where our experienced team provide a professional, safe and most importantly, a confidential space and support network to anyone who reaches out to us for help. It is amazing that today we can announce Joe Newell as an Ambassador for the charity and with Danny Swanson and James Keatings already involved with us, it is so important for these guys to lead and hopefully encourage young men and women to come forward and speak up if they are struggling and see that there is no shame in doing so. We are absolutely delighted to have Hibs onboard and are really looking forward to seeing how the partnership evolves.”   

 Lee Johnson Manager — Hibernian FC said:

“Everyone goes through various stages of mental health and it’s vitally important that players and staff at the Football Club feel like they’ve got all the support with anything they need help with. The stigma around discussing mental health inside football clubs is changing and this is another massive step in the right direction. The team at Back Onside have done some excellent work and we look forward to having Libby and other team members at HTC with us.”

Joe Newell – Hibernian midfielder said:

“I’ve been supporting Back Onside because of the work they’ve done with one of my good friends, Danny Swanson. They helped him when he has had issues with his mental health in the past and now he’s an ambassador for them. I saw first-hand how they helped him and wanted to show my support. I’m really happy that Libby and the team are helping the Club out with this important issue. It’s good that all the lads know there’s someone to speak to if and when they need it.” 

Danny Swanson, Professional Footballer and Back Onside Ambassador said

“I have personally struggled over the years with my Mental Health and Libby has always been there at the other end of the phone to help and support me.   Then when I became an Ambassador a few years ago I seen the work they do out with myself and they are just non stop 24/7.  It’s something that is very much needed in this day and age and it’s hopefully helping people to open up and talk more and the charity is by far the best thing I have ever got involved in and long may it continue.  I’ve seen within the game how many players actually struggle and from that end, I am always proud to say that I am associated with the charity and this partnership with Hibernian is nothing but positive. Steps to highlight how there is no shame in reaching out for a bit of help is always something I will get behind and I genuinely feel that the club partnering with Back Onside shows how far we have come in tackling the issues and stigma around mental health, particularly with young men who are typically more at risk to not asking for help”.

James Keatings, Professional Footballer and Back Onside Ambassador said:  

“It’s very easy to look at footballers and think that they have this life that is perfect. Getting paid to play a game you love and a lot of people think we all make lots of money and live lavish lifestyles. The reality is that we have very short careers and they can be very high pressure, especially when you are going through a bad spell or pick up an injury. I have been unfortunate enough to experience an injury. It’s at those times that life can be very lonely. You don’t train with your teammates; you worry if you’re going to get back fit again and it definitely goes through your mind if your career is coming to an end. There’s a very small percentage of players who ever make the kind of money that will set them up for life. Even the thought of what happens or what you do when you finish playing can be stressful. I have been supported through Back Onside and you see the importance of a charity like this. They are worth their weight in gold and for Hibernian to get on board with a partnership is fantastic. It’s something more clubs should be considering as player welfare is often overlooked but this again highlights that Hibernian and Back Onside are doing so much to help improve this area”.

Back Onside’s Positive Pitches campaign was launched in 2021 aimed at football clubs and players to promote positive mental health within the industry. After working closely with several clubs and players at all levels over the last few years, and realising there was a real lack of support available, the charity decided to launch the campaign to let clubs and players know that there is support out there. Determined to break the stigma attached to mental health and the football industry, the campaign targets football clubs of all levels in a bid to let players & staff know they are there should they need support as well as educating clubs on ways to support players and promote a positive environment. Footballers are often at risk of suffering with their mental health as they face high pressure within their jobs, injuries, abuse on and off the pitch and scrutiny resulting in feelings of anxiety and depression. Many footballers also have other jobs outside of football which adds extra stress and pressure to daily life. All of this can result in their mental health reaching an all-time low and, as many deal with this silently, by the time others realise, it can too often be too late. Throughout the last few of years, the charity have seen an increase in the number of people reaching out to them for help, in particular football players in need of support. This surge spurred founder Libby to launch Positive Pitches in a bid to ensure every club & player knows who they are and how to contact them should they need them.  

Back Onside is a Scottish Charity that supports anyone struggling with their Mental Health; their work sees them working at all levels of Sport and also amazing work in the wider Communities, schools and businesses in various capacities. They offer a variety of support levels and have the experience and expertise within their team including professional 1-to-1 counselling, sport rehabilitation, mental health workshops, educational programmes and focused activities to assist with recovery and promote a healthier lifestyle. 

For more information, please contact Libby Emmerson on 07528 243 100 /