Vikings deliver 'mental fitness' programme at Prison

Widnes Vikings have begun delivering their hugely successful mental wellbeing programme 'Offload' in Liverpool Prison.

Sessions at the prison will take place twice weekly over the next five weeks at HMP Liverpool’s new ‘Wellbeing Wing’. The prison works in collaboration with Better Health Liverpool, which is made up of health providers Spectrum and Merseycare.

Offload, run by Rugby League Cares in partnership with State of Mind and the Vikings Sports Foundation, is a free programme for men who are facing challenges regarding their mental fitness.

The presenters – who include ex players like Phil Veivers, Danny Sculthorpe and Jimmy Gittins - aim to use the power of rugby league and their experiences with mental health issues to inspire participants and help them learn new practical tools and techniques of how to handle tough times.

Offload Programme Co-ordinator Sean Mellor said: “Offload is a fantastic programme and we’re always looking for new ways to reach out to men who need to build their 'mental fitness'.

“Partnering with Liverpool Prison is a huge step towards that goal, and we have been delighted with the results early on. We’re looking forward to the rest of the programme’s delivery and are excited to see the benefits the inmates have received from the sessions.”

Anna Smith, Head of Health and Social Care for the HM Prison and Probation Service, said: “J wing has recently reopened following a full refurbishment as our ‘Wellbeing Wing’.

“The wing is based on the five ways to wellbeing, with each prisoner based on the wing having their own individual wellbeing action plan. This includes participating in courses and activities that are going to improve their wellbeing.

“One of the courses is Offload, which is being delivered on the wing twice a week, and the prisoners I have spoken to have stated it was really good. Some of the prisoners would never have done courses like this or spoken in an open forum about their thoughts a feeling so this is really big step.”

To find out more about Widnes Vikings Sports Foundation, visit its ConnectSport directory page. To add your organisation to the directory, contact