ConnectSport is official media partner for the European Healthy Stadia Conference at the Emirates Stadium on April 27. Among the speakers at the Conference will be Sandy Mitchell, Foundation Director for Lancashire County Cricket Club Foundation, and Dr Chet Trivedy, Visiting Lecturer at Warwick Medical School and Founder of the ‘Boundaries for Life’ programme which stages health screening at international cricket matches. Sandy spoke to ConnectSport about the programme.
Tell us about ‘Boundaries for Life’ – why did you start running this at Emirates Old Trafford and how many events have you run to date?
We were first introduced to ‘Boundaries for Life’ (BfL) through Matthew Philpott, Executive Director of the European Healthy Stadia Network in 2013 and since then we have been working with Chet and his team of professionals/volunteers to provide NHS-style health checks at major international cricket fixtures held at Emirates Old Trafford. In the last four years the health checks, which include blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, height, weight and an oral examination have been carried out on more than 250 individuals (both match-going public and staff). BfL really complements our work as a Foundation where, on a day-to-day basis, we deliver a range of other projects and programmes that strive to promote healthy lifestyles to a range of target groups. BfL also enhances the experience on offer at an international match, providing something different and unexpected for the public and staff who have all responded positively to the provision of these checks. This initiative has led to us working with BfL to deliver a bespoke health check specifically for LCCC staff on a non-match day as well as basic life support and defibrillator training.
Why is it so important to take health screening to your target group, as opposed to asking them to come to you?
We find that the informal setting attracts people who would not automatically present to their GP or other health providers for a similar service. It also attracts a greater percentage of male participants and, as we know, these are a particularly hard-to-reach group when it comes to this sort of intervention. The enclosed nature of the ground and the fact that cricket as a sport creates a lot of time for the fans to wander around ensures that the intervention is visible which helps create the interest. We are also able to generate increased interest through PA announcements, programme notes etc.
What has been the response of both fans and members of staff who are screened?
The response from those taking part is incredibly positive, with satisfaction levels across all aspects of the service provided at well over 90%. Chet and his team do a fantastic job and almost everyone taking part would be happy to recommend the service. Anecdotally, individuals talk about the convenience of the checks, taking place at work or an event they are present at, rather than making a specific trip to the GP or other provider.
International cricket obviously attracts people from different cultures and backgrounds. Is the intention to engage with, for example, more BAME groups?
That is not the specific intention, but the service is open and promoted to all individuals attending matches at Emirates Old Trafford. That being said, international cricket is a culturally, ethnically diverse sport and this intervention is able to take advantage of that and engage audiences that would be otherwise difficult to access.
What are the plans for the future?
We plan to continue to build on our work with ‘Boundaries for Life’ to deliver health checks at major matches at Emirates Old Trafford in the coming years and hope to be able to support the team to secure some long-term funding. We want to be able to help and support BfL to continue to demonstrate the potential cricket has as a vehicle for delivering the health-check initiative by carrying out high numbers of checks and targeting a demographic (older males) that other health-check providers struggle to engage. We also hope to train LCCC Foundation staff to carry out health checks in the future so we are able to utilise this initiative at domestic fixtures and ultimately expand its reach and impact.