As we enter 2020, I look back on the last decade and feel proud that Sport in Mind has been able to help thousands of people experiencing mental health problems, over 12,000 in fact.

When I think back 10 years, I don’t think I could ever have imagined we’d be where we are today. 10 years ago, one of my oldest friends had a breakdown. At the time he was really struggling mentally, but reluctant to engage with traditional mental health services, like a lot of people… so I decided to help him myself! People often say what I did was inspirational, or above and beyond what I should have done, but the truth is I just did what I could to help a friend I’d known since I was 4.   

I guess most people know the rest of the story, but if you don’t, I set about designing a bespoke physical activity programme to help his recovery. It took a while but eventually he embraced my programme and his mental health began to improve. He didn’t recover overnight – it’s not one of those stories where suddenly there’s a magical cure and he got up one day and felt 100% well. It involved lots of hard work (from him), lots of ups and downs, but eventually his symptoms reduced. When he felt better, he returned to work and has been in full-time employment ever since. So proud of you, mate, if you’re reading this!!

In a way, that was the end of one journey for me, and the beginning of another – Sport in Mind. Inspired by my friend’s recovery, in 2010 I decided to set up an organisation with the simple mission of improving people’s mental health through sport and physical activity… and Sport in Mind was born.

I set out a decade ago to just help a few local people in Reading, but Sport in Mind now works across the South of England, has helped thousands of people, gained national acclaim and has bought me into contact with lots of really amazing people. As we enter a new decade, I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has helped me and the charity over the years. Your support and kindness have been amazing and I’m so appreciative. Here’s to another decade of helping thousands more people!

See you in 2020.

Neil Harris