Despite the disruptions experienced during the COVID restrictions Duke Harrison-Hunter the Pompey in the Community Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Officer affiliated to Portsmouth FC, has been actively involved in building a framework to support Portsmouth FC Women’s pastoral care and mental health needs.

Eric Colborn, Chairman of the Portsmouth FC‘s women’s section and Mick Mellows former PFC player have appointed the club’s assistant chaplain, Debbie Smart as the chaplain for the women’s first team and Academy. It has been a really well-received appointment for the support it offers both to players and staff alike, and fits in with the Chairman’s philosophy of making sure every need of the players is prioritised and catered for. This addition to the support of the team and the recent confirmation that Linvoy Primus is the women’s section ambassador has delighted Eric who said, ‘I would like to take this opportunity to officially welcome Debbie to the Pompey family. I was delighted that the players and staff endorsed this appointment. The well-being of everybody involved at this club is the most important thing to me and I know Debbie and Linvoy, our new club ambassador will be a fantastic help to all of us going forward.’

The importance of the role of the chaplain was emphasised by Linvoy through the experience he had with the chaplaincy team of the Reverend Jonathan Jeffery and Mick Mellows when he commented, ‘In my time as a player at Pompey, the role of the chaplaincy team was vitally important. The trust and confidentiality experienced by myself and the other players was a constant source of support. Knowing that there is someone available to talk to and listen to you, is extremely comforting, especially in the modern world of football. I hope that once the COVID restrictions are lifted they will be able to continue with their valuable work alongside the EDI officer.’

With a particular concern for mental health and emotional well-being, the EDI representative has organized professional training for the chaplaincy team members to meet the growing demand for support in this area. Duke commented, ‘Given recent developments in our industry it is vital to ensure that pastoral care and mental health support is available. I am therefore delighted, as the EDI officer to have helped put this chaplaincy team together to serve the needs of all those associated with the club to ensure a continued caring workplace.’

If you would like any further details about the chaplaincy service, please contact: Duke Harrison-Hunter at Pompey in the Community during office hours on 02392 728899 or email him: [email protected] .