“The award is fantastic and I am absolutely chuffed,” says Jason Spreckley, who has received national recognition for his work on the Head 4 Health project with Wolves Foundation.
“But the main reward for me is being part of the programme, and coming in to talk to people.
“If I can help just one person not go through what I went through, or know they have someone to talk to or that there is light at the end of the tunnel, then that is what I get up for in the morning.
“That is the reward for me – to see a few smiles on people’s faces, to see them connecting with others, and to see them enjoying themselves.”
Jason, aged 42, struggled with addiction and mental health issues when growing up, and found it difficult to find organisations who were able to help him.
He now works for SUIT (Service User Involvement Team) in Wolverhampton, a project which offers support across a broad range of areas to vulnerable people from the city, including around addiction and recovery, homelessness, poverty, health and wellbeing and mental health issues.
Through those contacts, when Wolves Foundation were looking for advice and guidance to set up their Head 4 Health programme focusing on helping men from the local area, Jason was understandably very keen to get involved.
Now, two years on, he is an award winner, his support as a facilitator for Head 4 Health landing him one of the Premier League and PFA Community Fund accolades as part of the tenth anniversary celebrations of the Premier League Charitable Fund.
“Over the years SUIT have won a fair few awards, but I have never been one for collecting any of them and, out of my own choice. have been the one stood at the back,” says Jason.
“I have never won an individual award before.
“What I love most about it is that when you are working hard and putting everything into something, you don’t realise who is noticing?
“It is just really nice to be appreciated.”
From attending the first steering group to formulate the plans for Head 4 Health, to then helping the Foundation with guidance and other contacts, and regularly telling his own story, Jason’s support has certainly been noticed, and appreciated.
“Jason is one of those people who is always ready to help, you can go to him with a problem or needing some advice and, if he doesn’t know himself, he will point you in the right direction,” says Rachel Smith, Health & Wellbeing Manager with Wolves Foundation.
“He really has become a key part of the success of the Head 4 Health project which is an initiative which so many partner organisations in the city have engaged with.
“Jason has improved participants’ mental wellbeing, and encouraged them to access help if needed, as well as delivering inspirational sessions where he shares his own inspiring story of struggling with addiction and mental health issues.”
The overall aims of Head 4 Health, a programme supported by the Premier League and PFA Community Fund, are to improve mental and physical wellbeing in adult males.
And that lived experience which can often prove so vital in helping people who are experiencing exactly what Jason has been through, and he admits he himself still benefits when he attends a Head 4 Health session.
“I suffered from mental health issues myself, I still do, and there wasn’t really anything there to help me when I was growing up,” he explains.
“When volunteering at SUIT, I would run boxing, football and zumba sessions, which I carried on with when I became a member of staff, and you can just see the difference it made to people.
“Their wellbeing, mental health, sense of involvement, everything just improves.
“That was something that I was really interested in with Head 4 Health who had some fantastic ideas of what they wanted to do.
“I attended some of the sessions, did some talks and got others involved, and just tried to pass on advice on how to engage people based on my own experiences.
“Through all the time I have worked at Suit, I have encouraged people to talk about mental health. Even though I am not a trained professional in that area, I try to use my own experiences and my own story to encourage others to get the help that they need.
“I still think men sometime don’t talk enough about their mental health – I know I didn’t - and attending the sessions and telling my story has helped me as well.
“You see people who are sitting there quietly and then all of a sudden something clicks and they relate to it and open up and talk to each other.
“I just think it is fantastic that a club like Wolves, the Wolves Foundation and the Premier League have seen what was needed and started this project.
“Hopefully it can both engage and inspire people and if they are struggling, help them to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Although he has lived in Wolverhampton for some considerable time, Jason lived in Ireland when he was younger, and is actually a Liverpool fan.
Which makes the congratulatory message received from Wolves and England captain Conor Coady, formerly of Liverpool, just perfect!
“My Mum and brother are season ticket holders at Wolves and my Uncle used to take me to games in the South Bank when it was standing,” he explains.
“I have been to a lot of Liverpool games, but I always want Wolves to win as well, apart from two games a season!
“Molineux is a fantastic stadium and I really enjoy going there and spending time with Wolves Foundation - I love every minute of it.
“I was fortunate enough to do a Match of the Day feature last season and got to chat with John Ruddy and Ryan Bennett, and the message from Conor is amazing – I’ve been showing everybody!
“I love talking to people, and at the end of the day I don’t think it really matters which team I support – my passion is about mental health and helping people when they need it.”
*Jason’s achievement was also marked on the Premier League’s website. Click here to view their story.