AS we reach the end of Mental Health Awareness Week, QPR in the Community Trust are delighted to tell the story of our very own Justin Stone.
Multi Activities Manager, Justin first walked through the W12 doors in 1995 as a schoolboy and over two decades later continues to be at the forefront of the amazing work we continue to do in the local area.
A familiar face to many R’s supporters, especially on matchdays in the capital. Throughout his time with Rangers Justin has been at the forefront of some of the great work we have done, with his own story enough to inspire anyone, with his continued support of the Mental Health World Cup highlighting how important the awareness of Mental Health is to him.
“I initially joined Rangers in 1995 on work experience and in one way or another have been involved with the club ever since, QPR’s Multi Activities manager told www.qpr.co.uk.
“I started volunteering at the clubs Soccer Schools and by the age of 16 I became an apprentice here.
“Despite a few years away whilst I worked with another company, in 2007 I came home and for the last 14 years I have been doing my current role.”
“Fans may recognise me more from walking around the pitch on a matchday, something I do around 100 times a game, but I also run the National Citizenship programme (NCS) and oversee stadium tours and pitch events.
“And it’s my work coordinating pitch events that led me to the Mental Health World Cup.”
At the end of each season QPR in the Community Trust link up with the charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) to provide a unique Mental Health World Cup which is played at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions last year, the tournament was postponed and thankfully this year it will be delivered on the famous W12 pitch but in a very different and safe way.
Speaking on why he got involved, Justin said: “From a personal perspective when we put on the Mental Health World Cup tournament here, it means a lot to me.
“I got involved in it because sadly my brother-in-law passed away three years ago, through a bad mental health illness, which was a horrendous time.
“So as a club I feel we should always go above and beyond to support people and raise awareness of the issues of mental health and this tournament helps us to do that, by using the power of sport.
“The majority of the money raised from this great tournament goes to CALM, but some of it also goes to our wonderful Inclusion Programme, which delivers a number of sessions to people with varying mental health issues.”
He added: “This project has helped a vast amount of local people, including some valued members of our staff.
“We have seen how the club and the Community Trust can benefit people’s health and the positive impact sport as a whole can have.”
“Sport creates a togetherness and that can be hugely beneficial to everyone’s mental health.
“Doing some sort of exercise can always makes you feel better from my point of view, sport gets people talking which can only be a positive thing.
“I just think with more awareness of mental health issues, the more you can be aware of little things, like little triggers in people.
“Beforehand I may have felt someone was having a bad day and I would have left them, but now actually is it this, is it that, if it’s a supporter and they want five minutes of my time yes, I may be busy, but can I spend five minutes of my time with them, that’s the power of greater awareness of this hidden illness.
“I am in a very privileged position, but I do feel that kindness is one of the most important things that I do in my job and just spending those extra five minutes with someone is really struggling could be massive.”
“Lockdown has been a tough time for many, and football fans have been no different. At QPR we are thankful to have had services like the R you Okay campaign, where you can see the impact, this has had on many people who perhaps may have struggled without that personal contact.
“But I am sure that when fans are back, we are going to do as much as possible to try and help them and enjoy our matchday experience even more than before.”