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Robbie Chandler

With a personal passion for community health, Robbie Chandler (BSc Psychology, 2019) is Health Manager at Coventry City Football Club’s charity arm, Sky Blues in the Community. Alongside some tips for standing out from the crowd, discover how his time at Warwick helped Robbie to fulfil his drive to help others and support local communities in Coventry and Warwickshire.


Why did you choose to study at Warwick?

My dad worked at the University for a number of years and explained to me from a young age that Warwick was a great place to study with a fantastic reputation – the type of place that would prepare me well for life. I wanted to study somewhere that would give me the best opportunities in my future career and Warwick, as a top 10-ranked, Russell Group university on my doorstep, was the perfect match for my ambitions.


How did your course and experiences at Warwick help you in your career?

I use my degree not just in my career but in everyday life. When I interact with people, I’m constantly thinking about their body language and how they might react in certain situations. At work, I use theoretical knowledge from cognitive behaviour therapy and compassion focussed theory to gain a better understanding of people and how I might be able to help them. It’s also enabled me to support colleagues to achieve better outcomes at work.


What’s the best thing about working in Coventry & Warwickshire?

Coventry is so well-connected meaning you can get anywhere in the country. It’s also culturally rich and diverse, and that’s been enhanced with investment from being awarded City of Culture in 2021. From a healthcare perspective, services like the Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust collaborate effectively with third-party organisations and charities like Sky Blues to improve patient care and outcomes, which isn’t the case everywhere.


What motivated you to pursue a career with Sky Blues in the Community?

At Sky Blues, I saw the incredible community impact of early interventions, including working with older adults with cancer through fitness programmes, delivering PE in primary schools through PLPS (Premier League Primary Stars), supporting individuals who are at risk of involvement in crime, and so much more. I could see Sky Blues was integral to the community and I wanted to be a part of that.


What do you enjoy most about your work?

Changing people’s lives for the better. As an example, someone I work with hadn’t left the house for eight years, has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder and a history of trauma after some challenging personal circumstances. He joined our mentor project (via Zoom due to lockdown) and grew in confidence over time. To attend in person sessions, he travelled on the bus and later on a train to Shrewsbury to play. A year later and he’s a mentor, takes part in our disability football sessions, has completed a sports leadership coaching qualification and is a lead volunteer with Sky Blues. The programme has transformed his life.



Can you tell us about MENtalk?

MENtalk brings together physical exercise and therapy workshops to support men in Coventry, Nuneaton and Warwick with their mental health. We deliver a range of relaxed physical activities, not just football. Following that, we run a workshop covering topics including anxiety, depression, stress and self-compassion. We’ve just launched WOMENtalk in Nuneaton and Warwick, as well as a programme for individuals with dementia and mild cognitive impairment, and Fit Fans which helps Coventry City supporters improve their physical health.


What skills or attitudes do you think are essential for your line of work?

Being compassionate, caring and a good active listener. The nature of the role means you’re regularly faced with unpredictable situations, so you need to be adaptable, flexible and able to improvise quickly. Lots of these skills and attitudes are enhanced through practice and exposure to these situations, and volunteering can be an effective way of developing them.


What advice would you give to a current student who might be looking to work in a similar role to you?

The field of Psychology is incredibly competitive, so you need to stand out from the crowd. Either at or before university, gain some experience with local charities or through opportunities like Nightline at Warwick. Be creative – I’ve previously searched for NHS job adverts, contacted the hiring manager and asked if I can volunteer or shadow them.


What are your plans for the future?

I’d love to come back to study at Warwick. I want to become a Clinical Psychologist and to do that I’ll need to complete my Clinical Psychology doctorate. It will be a very competitive process, so in the meantime I hope to build my experience, develop new and existing skills and continue to support people in need of help.