The weekly Thursday evening sessions launched in June and now see between 20 and 30 people enjoy a kickabout at Roefield before coming together to socialise at the football club.
With last Sunday marking World Mental Health Day, Jackson – who plays himself – believes the project has been crucial in providing an outlet for those who take part amid the easing of lockdown restrictions.
“From my own experience, and having spoken to the lads after the sessions, the positive benefit is great,” said Jackson, also the finance director at the Pitching In Northern Premier League Division One West outfit.
“It just makes you feel better. I certainly look forward to the sessions and I know the other lads do as well. It gives you a real boost towards the end of a week and allows you to catch up afterwards.
“All ages are welcome – our youngest member is 20 and our oldest is 57. It’s about getting a group of lads together to chat about any issues, if there are any, and generally have a laugh and a kickaround.
“The feedback we get on our WhatsApp group shows how valuable people find it.”
The project has been aided by a grant from the Trident Community Foundation, established by Pitching In – a multi-million-pound grassroots sport investment programme set up by Ladbrokes with the support of its owner Entain.
TCF grants ranging from £1,000 to £5,000 have so far been awarded to more than 30 clubs across the Pitching In Isthmian, Southern and Northern Premier Leagues and Clitheroe used theirs to good effect.
“The TCF money helped us with pitch hire and equipment, and we’re now in the process of buying a kit for the Lads United players to wear, which some of the grant money is going towards,” Jackson said.
“Hopefully it will develop further. Mental health charities have been in touch to possibly send people down and we’re hoping to introduce seminar sessions at the club to help the group.
“This might include things like people having a chat with a professional to go through certain things or hearing from those who have suffered, talking about their own experiences
“We are an outlet for people to have a kickabout, a chat and a beer. If we can develop the community side of it through seminars and speakers, that’s where I see it going forwards.”
Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/