Members of the Blyth community have been thanked for their efforts in helping to get a mental health support group for men up and running.
It will start on May 13, after a group leader was found, sufficient funds were raised and a venue was secured for the weekly sessions.
Following some tragic deaths of young men in the town, Blyth resident Courtney Vacher felt there was an issue that needed to be addressed and something had to be done.
She did some research and discovered County Durham-based ManHealth, a Community Interest Company that aims to create a network of male peer support groups.
The teacher at a school in Newcastle spoke to her brother Anthony, a talented musician, about what she was doing and he revealed that he had been struggling with his own feelings of isolation, lack of self-worth and depression.
Courtney organised a few fund-raisers and he put together a concert to help get the money in place for the new group.
She said that the families of the deceased have been very supportive by sharing their stories and Kelly McFarlane, whose brother John took his own life in November 2017, has been part of the team setting up the group.
In addition, Terri Langley organised an event in memory of her brother – known as Flash – that raised more than £1,000.
Courtney added: “I’m absolutely over the moon that everything is now in place for the ManHealth group as I was getting a bit anxious.
“It’s very important for us to have this group – I’ve been contacted by quite a few men asking when it would be up and running because they want a place where they can talk about their situation and be understood, rather than feeling that they are being left to the side.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported us in getting this project off the ground and I hope that the men of our town will be able to access and benefit from the sessions and that they make a difference.
“We found a group leader, Matt Vose, and he has undergone the required training.
“He will be leading a session in County Durham on May 6 in preparation for the first Blyth session. He can point those who attend in the direction of mental health support services if required.
“I’m the Blyth Town ladies team manager and the club has provided a space in the clubhouse for free.
“The first session will be on Monday, May 13 from 6pm to 8pm and sessions will then continue every Monday at the same time, including bank holidays.
“We’re grateful for the donations from residents, businesses and organisations. We’ll keep fund-raising because the group needs £5,000 per year to run.
“We will be doing a Hadrian’s Wall walk on September 22 and we will be among the charities benefitting from this year’s Fight for Hope in honour of Sophia Welsh event.”
For more information about the group, go to the ManHealth Blyth Facebook page.