A Year Since GET VOCAL Launch

It’s been a year since we launched our men’s talking group, Get Vocal, and what a year it has been!

Get Vocal is a men’s talking group which has been formed by Blackpool FC Community Trust, Blackpool Football Club and Blackpool Council. The group is aimed at supporting men aged 18+ by providing a safe, non-judgmental and confidential setting for them to talk openly about their mental health and challenges they may be facing. The sessions take place every Monday evening in the North Stand Community Hub from 6-8pm (excluding bank holidays). Men can simply turn up, talk and get it off their chest!

The group was first launched 1 year ago, on World Mental Health Day and has played a huge part in supporting men’s mental health. So far, 35 men have accessed the group with a total of 298 attendances overall. The group is attended by men of all ages and backgrounds, who all have their own individual life experiences. However, the one thing the group shares in common is that they are all there to support their own mental health and provide peer support to each other. Each week, men have the time and space to reflect on their week and talk about any challenges they have faced, as well as sharing the positives, for example proactive things they have done to better support their wellbeing. Conversations have ranged from discussing relationship breakdowns, financial worries, depression and anxiety, work stress and more.

As the group has evolved and more men have started to attend, we further developed our reach to better support those who attend by setting up a WhatsApp group. The idea behind this was to enable support outside of the talking group time. Men that wanted to opt into the group did, and it is superb to see the level of support that the men offer each other throughout the week, offering each other advice, support or just to offload.

Many of the men who attend the group shared the same story about having previously put off coming and how difficult it was to make the initial first step through the door. We are also aware of many other men who have wanted to come but have felt too anxious or nervous to attend.

As a way to try and remove some of these barriers and to reach even more men, we launched The Get Vocal Podcast. The first episode was released in August, featuring local author, youth worker and spoken word poet, Nathan Parker, who came and shared his own personal journey and experiences and how he now uses his platform to empower others who may be going through difficult times. We have since released a further two episodes and will continue with monthly episodes, featuring a variety of guest speakers talking about all things men’s mental health, that the men of Blackpool can relate to. We hope that men will listen/watch the podcast and feel empowered to make that first step.

The aim of The Get Vocal Podcast is to reach even more men in our town, providing them with an online platform, that allows them to listen to other men share their own experiences and reduce the stigma attached to men’s mental health. We hope by listening, men who are in need will also feel more confident to take their first step through our doors on a Monday evening and get the support they need.

Hear from staff and participants:

“Over the course of my life I have been affected by, not only my own mental health, but that of my friends and family. I have lost friends to their battles and faced dark times myself, and from this have developed a passion for working within mental health and supporting those that need it. When my manager came and asked me if I wanted to be a part of Get Vocal, it was a no brainer for me. I had to do it, and I am so glad that I did. It might sound alien to others, but those 2 hours a week that we have for Get Vocal, are the best 2 hours of my week. I may facilitate the group, but even sitting and listening to what’s being said has enabled me to counteract specific problems I have faced myself. The camaraderie, support and respect from every member of the group makes me incredibly proud of what we have achieved and makes me even more excited about what we could do in the future to better support the men of Blackpool. This group has proven that stigmas can be removed and that is the thing I am most proud of.” – Dan – Group Facilitator

“Get Vocal is more than just a men’s talking group. A mixed group of men in many ways, however all striving for the same goal of some form of mental clarity whilst breaking down barriers and stigma. Respectful, non-judgemental.” – Participant

Turn up, talk, get it off your chest at our weekly Get Vocal talking group: