Woking Snooker Centre is celebrating the success of a community snooker partnership with its local Community Mental Health Recovery Service, which has seen a regular group develop over the summer.
The Recovery Through Occupation (RTO) scheme offers a six-week programme of various activities. Its location near to Woking Snooker Centre inspired the organisers to give snooker a try. On receiving the approach, the snooker club’s manager Pete Ruddick was enthusiastic about the opportunity.
The group promotes mental health recovery for its service users. Whilst participating in snooker as an activity, participants develop important life skills to improve occupational participation, increase motivation and facilitate social interaction.
Attending the snooker sessions has had a positive impact on self-esteem and confidence for those involved. Moreover, the snooker group has acted as a stepping stone, facilitating connection with other mainstream community-based activities and services.
One such connection is with ‘Sport in Mind’, a local mental health charity focusing on innovate sport programmes. This connection aims to set up a longer-term community snooker project at the club. This would provide a continuation for service users once the RTO group programme finishes.
Helen Turnbull, Specialist Occupational Therapist for Community Mental Health Recovery Service Woking, has been thrilled to get the programme started at Woking Snooker Centre. She commented: “The first group has been a huge success with people really excited to engage with snooker. It’s a huge achievement for so many people we work with just to get out of the house. We plan to move forward with another group during the autumn.”
This example of a club and community organisation working together to use snooker as a tool for social benefit really underpins the philosophy of the Therapeutic Value of Snooker guide launched last year.
The guide highlights precisely the type of occupational health benefits observed in the Woking initiative.
In fact, participants of the group have given their own feedback on their experiences of the snooker sessions.
Participant 1 said: “I found it fun, meeting other people and getting to know them. It was a bit of a boost that I was quite good at it.
“It gave me something to do, otherwise I would have been sitting in front of the TV. By the time I got home from the snooker group half the day had already gone and I had enjoyed the time and the socialising.
“I’m more confident to do other groups now; I won’t have the same anxiety I had previously.”
Participant 2 said: “It was fun to be in a snooker hall. For me, it was about reconnecting with a sport that I love.
“I really enjoyed being in the snooker hall; it was really calming.
“I am a massive fan but I had never played snooker on a full-size table. It was nice to learn and practise some of the techniques I’ve watched on TV over the years.
“Meeting other people in the group was lovely. Before I attended the group I felt really cautious about doing anything snooker-related.
“I would love to continue playing snooker and learning.
“Playing snooker gives you something to focus on, you can have a chat as well. It can be a bit of an escape from whatever you are worrying about at that moment – a focus that’s elsewhere and away from that; it takes you out of yourself.
“The snooker group contributed some structure to my week. Having a regular commitment was helpful. I found it enjoyable to be getting out and doing something.
“[I enjoyed] the mental health benefits of being active. One of the things that makes it good is that it is physically less daunting than other sports. The physical act of playing snooker can ground you.”
Participant 3 added: “[Initially] I felt very negative about snooker as I had no prior experience or interest and when I attended the first session I was surprised at how I got along.
“I felt supported by the group members and the OT staff which made me want to continue for a bit longer. Everyone was nice and friendly and made me feel part of the group.
Reflecting on a participant’s experience, one of the OT staff members commented: “She has become more confident, interested in doing more social events, more outgoing and willing to join in different groups. She reported feeling less depressed, feeling more upbeat and emotionally stronger and had an improved sleep pattern.
“She was looking forward to more snooker groups in the future. She really wanted to meet up with other group members later for a cup of coffee and a game of snooker.”
To find out more about the project visit the Sport in Mind website here
For information about Woking Snooker Centre click here
For more details about the WPBSA’s Therapeutic Value of Snooker guide click here