First-year scholars from the Chelsea Academy joined forces with the Chelsea Foundation and EPIC Risk Management to deliver a range of gambling harm awareness education workshops in local schools last week.

As part of the Chelsea Champions programme run by the Chelsea Foundation, five EPIC facilitators joined the bill alongside first-year scholars and Chelsea Foundation coaches to deliver an afternoon of mental health and wellbeing workshops to older pupils at secondary schools across the south-east.

The Chelsea Champions programme aims to boost physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and promote leadership opportunities for students by placing Foundation staff into schools full-time. Our Academy scholars have been involved for a number of years, visiting the schools and engaging with pupils on a range of topics.

The latest of those was focused on gambling harm awareness, with EPIC having provided a number of sessions to our young players in recent seasons on the risks of gambling.

Of particular note in the school visits was the contribution of full-back Noah Hay, who returned to his former school where he was able to relay the benefits of being part of the Chelsea Champions programme as both pupil and football scholar, as well as other projects delivered by the Foundation while he studied there.

‘It's great to be able to utilise and work alongside EPIC, using their real-life experiences, which I think has really touched and brought a lot home to the students,’ said Jonny Drabble, senior project officer for the Chelsea Champions project delivered by Chelsea FC Foundation.

‘The facilitators spoke really well and passionately and I think anything like that that adds that extra value.’

EPIC programme facilitator Scott Davies, himself a former scholar at Reading, reflected on the benefits the sessions could bring.

‘It’s massively important for younger people listening if people like myself and the scholars start talking about problems that they might be facing in their lives, and how we can combat those,’ he said.

‘It's a great initiative that Chelsea FC Foundation and the club’s Academy have put on. We're delighted to be involved.’