Local Project Helps Men to Open Up and Put Mental Health First

On 2nd February 2023
Categories: 2023

Funding from our community grants programme has helped Norfolk and Norwich Hospital Charity support a 2-year project that encourages men to talk openly about their mental health and navigate through life’s challenges.

The pandemic had an undeniably negative impact on not only our physical health, but our mental health too. By funding this project, Norfolk and Norwich Hospital Charity aim to support men who have suffered further consequences of the pandemic that include loss of work, bereavement, and overall deterioration in their mental health.

Pit Stop is run by MensCraft and works to help men in East Norfolk and Waveney who have been adversely affected by the pandemic by providing a safe space for men to come together and socialise. Members also have access to a counsellor and can get involved in a variety of activities, such as board games, walks and community theatre.

Mark, 54, from Gorleston got involved with Pit Stop after a concerned friend urged that he attend following the death of his parents and a relationship breakdown. At the time, Mark was working for a builder’s merchant and felt that he was unable to show any signs of weakness. When the pandemic hit, he became very isolated and mostly kept to himself.

Mark has now been going to Pit Stop for nearly two years and has started mentoring a young member of the group. He even credits his new job at a care farm to MensCraft.

Speaking about the impact that opening up has on wellbeing, Mark said:

“I was introduced to Pit Stop by a friend of mine and he said he thought it would help me with my mental health problems due to the dark place I was in at the time.

“It was somewhere I could go and let out what was happening to me and speak to people who were in similar situations. I was welcomed straight away into the Pit Stop family, and I haven’t left since.

“It’s a pretty amazing place where amazing things can happen if you are willing to put in a bit of effort yourself.”

Keith, 73, from Great Yarmouth also attends the Pit Stop weekly sessions to help his wellbeing after struggling with mental health throughout his life. Having recently moved to the area, a friend suggested that he attend Pit Stop as a way to make new friends, and Keith soon found himself coming out of his shell.

Since joining, Keith feels that he is able to enjoy life again and has also joined Mark in mentoring new members.

Speaking of the different the project has made, Keith said:

“The support I get from Pit Stop is amazing and it’s the main thing that has got me through my dark patch and why I am still here.

“I would say meeting up with the guys and having a chat is really good for my mental health. Occasionally I will meet up with the guys during the week for a coffee. We have also been doing fishing as well as it has got people talking who wouldn’t usually open up.

“I now talk about Pit Stop to anyone I think is struggling. I just think it’s an amazing place.”

Nick works as a Pit Stop Coordinator as part of the MensCraft Charity team. He is a key point of contact for the Pit Stop members, who know what they can call him when they need some support.

Nick also organises the activities, which include fishing, photography walks and mindfulness classes, but what he finds particularly rewarding is when members start organising things for themselves.

Speaking about the importance of projects like this, Nick said:

“Pit Stop is just a social, but it is available to them every week. I believe consistency is really important to people in that situation. For some of them it’s the only time they get out of the house.

“Consistency and support from charities who fund us and give us money to enable us to do this is really important. The funding we have had has been a success, but the reality is we need to keep it going because the consistency is what really works for these people.”

Watch the video below to learn more about Mark and Keith’s stories:


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