Community comes together to support men's mental health group in Grantham
A new support group has been launched in Grantham to raise awareness of men’s mental health.
The Place2bee was formed by South Lincolnshire Blind Society (SLBS), to provide a safe space for men to go and talk and find out what support is available locally to help them live well.
The group will run as a drop-in centre on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6pm to 10pm at the BHive Community Hub, through Elmer House car park, Elmer Street South, Grantham.
It will provide the opportunity for men to go and have a cuppa and de-stress or to take part in a range of community activities or small projects such as refurbishing dolls houses for children who are being separated from their families, repairing bikes for the community, helping to make crafts to resell for the benefit of the community, woodworking or helping in the sensory garden or allotment.
Charity CEO Susan Swinburn has been working with Jason Desmond, a retired veteran, who is heading up the group.
A number of representatives from local businesses, as well as the police, attended the group’s soft launch at Elmer House on Thursday.
Susan said: “SLBS acquired a small pot of money to do some work around male suicide and prevention and it’s a cause that is really really close to our hearts.
“When I first came into the post 14 years ago I had a referral for a guy who wanted some emotional support and this was on a Friday afternoon. I rang up and he wasn’t there and I left him a message. I told him we were here to help him and to give us a ring and we will contact him on the Monday morning if he didn’t ring back that day. When I rang on Monday morning that guy had sadly taken his life.
“Forty per cent of people with sight loss report feelings of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. It’s a very emotive thing for me personally and I know a lot of people that I’ve talked to that have also been touched by the same issues.
“We know that in Grantham there is a huge gap in service provision and so we want to recruit and train volunteers to support people that drop in on a Monday and Thursday and provide other activities in the community.
“We want to eventually reach out to local businesses as well by training them in mental health first aid so that in our community at any given time there’s always somewhere in our town that people can pop in, have a cup of tea and just talk to somebody.”
The group will be headed up by lead volunteer Jason, who has a wealth of experience after spending 24 years in the military, including 11 tours.
He said: “Military personnel have seen a lot of trauma but post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which I suffer from, can affect people in different ways. It’s not just speaking to men, we will also support women who are struggling as well. Our main goal is to get as many people out there trained as mental health first aiders.
“We want so many different locations throughout Grantham, who can offer different services or time, to get involved. We’ve already heard from a few gyms who are happy to provide workouts, Men’s Shed will also be teaching young lads the basics of how to fix a bike, etc.
“Sometimes men need that little extra to go and build their skills and in time it will encourage them to open up.”
Pc Mark Barr, community beat manager with Lincolnshire Police, also attended the launch.
He said: “I received an email about what they are intending to do and knew that I wanted to be part of it. A lot of the people we deal with in the community are vulnerable. This will be somewhere that I know we can signpost them to for support.”
The garden area will also be revamped and made accessible with a wheelchair ramp in the grounds of Elmer House by Duncan Oliver of DK Construction, with materials donated by MKM Building Supplies.
The group is now looking for anyone, including businesses, who can help by offering their services, either as a volunteer or an activity.
Susan added: “Everyone doing a little bit makes a huge difference.”
To get in touch, contact The Place2bee on 07706 736722.