Kilkenny’s Kick-Start to Recovery programme wins international healthcare award

Co-funded by the HSE/South East Community Healthcare’s mental health services and the FAI in Kilkenny

Kilkenny People


Kilkenny People



Vicki Trehy (Occupational Therapist, Kilkenny Community Mental Health Services) with Kate Killeen White (Chief Officer, HSE/South East Community Healthcare) and David Heffernan

A soccer project co-funded by the HSE/South East Community Healthcare’s mental health services and the FAI in Kilkenny has won an international healthcare award.

The 2019 Zenith Global Healthcare Professionals Awards Cere,ony was held recently at the Leonardo Royal City Hotel in London, in which individuals and services from Europe and Asia across 30 categories were honoured. The winner of the Project Recognition award was Occupational Therapist Vicki Trehy and the 'Kick Start to Recovery' programme in Kilkenny.

Kick Start to Recovery is a targeted programme for men and women in the community with enduring mental health difficulties. It is headed up by Kilkenny Mental Health Occupational Therapists, who engaged with the FAI 'Football For All' national co-ordinator to establish it in their area.

The programme was introduced into Kilkenny Community Mental Health Services two years ago by Vicki and colleagues in the Occupational Therapy Department and involved the local FAI Development Officer and a Community Coach for an initial six week block in May 2017. The Watershed leisure centre in Kilkenny was the preferred training venue to host the programme and the cost was funded by the HSE.

 Zenith Global Health Awards was founded in 2016 to celebrate creativity, innovation and effectiveness in the healthcare industry. The Zenith Global Awards is one of the most coveted and recognisable awards in the world of healthcare, a true symbol of high achievement and excellence.

The Kick Start to Recovery programme provides evidence based practice delivered by the Occupational Therapist’s pre and post standardised assessments, as well as the vast research evidence on engagement in occupations of exercise based activities to promote mental health wellbeing and recovery.

The Chief Officer of South East Community Healthcare Kate Killeen White has congratulated all those involved in the Kilkenny programme.

“Kick Start has recently completed its sixth eight week block and will begin another round in January 2020," she said.

"This is a testament to the delivery of the programme in both the commitment from the FAI and the OT Department/Mental Health Services locally. Each block to date has demonstrated the huge benefits the programme has given participants, by engaging in the occupation of football. For example; noted increases in self esteem and confidence, increased social skills – which in turn has had a significant impact on increased motivation, anxiety and mood levels. I am delighted that South East Community Healthcare is involved, well done to Vicki, the coaches and all the participants.”

The Kick Start programme has delivered on a service need initially identified by the Occupational Therapy Department in the Kilkenny mental health services, in so far as that Kick-Start has a clear focus on exercise and re-engagement with the community during a period of mental un-wellness.

David Heffernan (Head of Service for Mental Health, South East Community Healthcare also welcomed the project.

“I was thrilled to hear news of Vicki’s and this Kilkenny based community project’s success at these prestigious international awards. The co-operation between ourselves and the FAI is indicative of the sports, recreation and activities partnerships that we are developing by the Healthy Ireland strategy and other routes, where we can support people’s physical and mental health," he said.

"The success of what Vicki, her colleagues and our friends in the soccer community in Kilkenny have been doing is something the HSE will look at replicating in other parts of the South East and beyond. Team sports, participating and all that brings is therapeutic in itself and a wonderful underpinning to the community and other supports our mental health services team are delivering for its service users.

"It’s fantastic to get this international recognition, we’re very thankful to Vicki and her team and know from the service users and their families how beneficial the programme has been and we hope to continue our good work in this area."