A BASINGSTOKE man has set up a community initiative aimed at making sport more accessible and is seeking supporters to donate items of equipment.

Mat Mason-Hames, who grew up in Winklebury but now lives in the Haslemere area of Surrey, started The Community Kit Bag, which aims to provide those that need it with free sports equipment, removing the barriers some face and allowing everyone access to the physical and mental health benefits of sport.

The 45-year-old, who attended Winklebury infant and junior schools before moving to Fort Hill school and then BCOT, says he was inspired to launch the initiative by his own struggles.

“I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in my twenties and the pandemic hit my mental health really hard as I was unable to play the sports that helped keep my mental health balanced,” Mat told the Gazette.

“This made me realise that many people do not have the facilities to be able to play sport, maybe because of money, but lots of others may have bought equipment and clothing before the pandemic but it never got used and now they may not need it or have grown out of it.”

The Community Kit Bag takes this unused equipment in and distributes it to those that need it most.

Mat added: “We currently have a shortage of footballs, rugby balls, tennis balls, all sorts of sticks, bats and rackets, boots, trainers and protective clothing (e.g. shin pads, head guards etc).

“I still visit Basingstoke most weeks, as my family are here so, if you or your sports club could arrange for a collection we would be able to pick it up. Please search through sheds, lofts and garages for any sports equipment that is in good condition but no longer any use to you and we will find it a new home.”

If you can help or are in need of equipment, you can contact Mat on contact.mindsetmhm@gmail.com or find the project on Instagram @communitykitbag.