Social entrepreneur uses basketball to net good mental health in young people

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Launched by Kieran Joseph in 2021 in partnership with mental health charity Coventry and Warwickshire Mind

Guardian Ballers is a mental and emotional wellbeing service that uses basketball and practical volunteering experiences to empower young people aged between 10-25.

A social enterprise in getting young people moving for their mental health. The programme engages more than 1,000 young people every year with its mantra of BALL (improve in and enjoy basketball), BE (greater mental and emotional wellbeing) and make their community BETTER.

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This Mental Health Awareness Week, Kieran and Guardian Ballers are on court to support this year’s Mental Health Foundation campaign theme, ‘Movement: Moving more for our mental health’.

Kieran Joseph, founder of Guardian BallersKieran Joseph, founder of Guardian Ballers
Kieran Joseph, founder of Guardian Ballers

The former PE teacher and international charity worker said: “Basketball is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK. It is unisex, non contact and inclusive. You are always involved because there are so many touches on the ball. Lots of people can't kick because they don't have the coordination but everybody can throw and catch.”

He added: “We're taking young people on this basketball physical activity journey but ultimately with the aim of engaging them to improve their mental and emotional well being.”

Guardian Ballers work with young people in schools, community hubs, one-to-ones, and referrals in special schools, police projects with at-risk primary school children, and run leadership programmes.

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Kieran said: “Statistics show that if you are likely to have mental health problems it will probably show up in some way between the ages of 10-25. We want to step in to help before it starts.”

Kieran sums up the Ball Be Better approach: “Choose to move your body with the priority of moving your mind. People often think: I'm going to do this activity to make my body look good. But actually, if they say: I'm going to choose to do physical activity to make me feel good and improve my mood, it can be very powerful.”

Guardian Ballers received £12,500 funding from UnLtd, a charity which funds and supports social entrepreneurs tackling the key issues facing society. Unltd has partnered with Sport England to launch Movement for Change, funding and supporting social entrepreneurs in England to help get people moving as often as possible.

Kieran added: “This funding will ultimately help me to work on my business, not in it. It will help develop my staff and increase our capacity to improve our impact. This could not happen without the support and funding from UnLtd’s Movement for Change programme with Sport England - together we are ‘Moving for Change’.”

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Mark Norbury, chief executive of UnLtd, added: “Social entrepreneurs from our Movement for Change programme are tackling inequalities and mental health challenges with inspired wellbeing solutions and activities. They are making a powerful difference in communities – at a time when so many of us have been struggling. We’re excited to support many more social entrepreneurs with Sport England.”

For more information on Guardian Ballers visit:

To find out how you can apply for the Movement For Change fund go here: