Boxing legend Frank Bruno MBE to cut the ribbon on newest mental health and wellbeing centre in Oxford

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A state-of-the-art mental health and wellbeing centre championed by Frank Bruno MBE and delivered in partnership with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust will open this week.

The former WBC Heavyweight Champion will cut the ribbon on The Frank Bruno Foundation’s latest centre at Oxford Stadium on Friday, November 25, as part of the multi-purpose venue’s major regeneration project.

Capable of working with up to 2,000 people each month, the charity’s Oxford base will deliver free non-contact boxing programmes and wrap-around care services to anyone experiencing mental ill health.

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust is opening a Keystone Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub in the centre which will be home to a Primary Care Mental Health Team. The team will take referrals from local GPs and improve mental health care for people in Cowley and Blackbird Leys.

Frank Bruno MBE said the centre’s launch has come at a critical time and will help to positively shape the lives of those who enter its doors.

“The launch of our Oxford centre is an important milestone and will ensure thousands more people can develop their self-esteem, confidence, resilience and discipline in a controlled and safe environment,” said Frank.

“Boxing holds the power to inspire positive change to peoples’ lives both professionally and socially. And while significant advances have been made to remove the stigma attached to mental ill health and seeking professional support, we believe more can be done.

“That’s why partnering with Oxford Stadium and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust is so important. By working together, we can engage new communities and individuals to our life-changing programmes and inspire lasting positive change.

“I feel very privileged to be in a position to support people in need of our help and look forward to opening our Oxford centre.”

Dr Rob Bale, clinical director for Oxfordshire at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust which operates the county’s mental health services, said: “Keystone Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub Blackbird Leys & East Oxford will make it easier than ever for local people to access support and care close to home so they can thrive in their lives and community.

“The hub will be an exciting collaboration of local people who have experience of mental health challenges themselves, mental health professionals, psychologists, peer support workers and employment experts. The team will be a collaboration between the NHS and local charities Elmore and Restore. It will be linked to local GP surgeries and by working with the Frank Bruno Foundation and Oxford Stadium. We will be here to support people when they experience mental health challenges, respond if their care needs change and enable people to stay well.”

Dr David Chapman the Clinical Mental Health Lead at Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board (which is responsible for commissioning and funding of local health and care services) said: “We are delighted the new service will help and care for patients in their local community in East Oxford. We have worked closely with GPs and other health staff and partners to launch the service, which will support patients to get a better experience of their mental health and wellbeing. We thank all involved.”

Other onsite provisions at the Frank Bruno Foundation’s Oxford centre include four activity studios, a coffee shop and a fully equipped gym used by the Foundation and out of hours by Blackbird Leys ABC – the city’s oldest boxing club.

The studios will be available for local tutors and clubs to hire for sessions including yoga, nutrition, dance and fitness. The centre’s launch has also created 10 full-time jobs.

Kevin Boothby, Oxford Stadium Managing Director, added: “The people of east Oxford and its surrounds have been crying out for a facility like this and we believe it will be a great asset to the community.

“I know the Frank Bruno Foundation has gone to great lengths to transform this previously neglected space while the stadium was dysfunctional into a modern, fit-for-purpose, centre where everyone is welcome.

“We’re a community-focused venue and hope this launch can help support those experiencing mental ill health start their road to recovery and a prosperous future.”

The Frank Bruno Foundation aims to improve the mental wellbeing of participants who are facing or in the process or recovering from mental health challenges.

Anyone interested in supporting the charity’s work can do so by donating via its website where further information is available.

Find out more about the Keystone Mental Health Hub at the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust website.

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