ECHOSPORT has teamed up with Southend United’s Community Trust in a bid to help Shrimpers supporters suffering from mental health issues.

The ‘Battling the Blues’ programme kicked off last Thursday and will be taking place again tonight.

And the Echo’s chief sports reporter Chris Phillips is hopeful the programme will prove to be a huge success.

“This is something really close to my heart and I’ve had big struggles in the past so hopefully it can make a difference to people,” said Phillips.

“I found exercise to be the biggest help for me during my own struggles so it’s a good thing to be putting on.

“I think more needs to be done to help people who are struggling, especially nowadays where sadly more and more people seem to be affected by it.

“But I’m really grateful to April Smith at the club’s community trust for everything she has done in getting this up and running.

“It was a good start last week with a few fans coming along.

“But we really want to make this bigger and better with even more people in attendance so fingers crossed it will continue to build as the weeks progress.”

The hour long sessions will be held at the Southend Leisure & Tennis Centre, running between 8pm and 9pm.

The coaching will cost £3 per person and the scheme is being backed by ex-Blues striker Drewe Broughton, who hopes to be able to attend during the next three months.

“It’s a brilliant initiative,” said Broughton.

“I just want to give back as much as I can with the wisdom gained from the bottom of the well and back again.

“I hope it helps a lot of people because it’s important to talk about how you’re feeling.

“People go through all kinds of things and they keep silent because they fear being seen as weak or a weirdo.

“Footballers feel that way too.

“The game won’t talk about it but I know managers talk to other managers and tell them to be careful.

“But you just need to talk.”

>To sign up for ‘Battling the Blues’ call 01702 341351 or email