MACCAS Blog – Part 2

Hello and thank you for reading our second Maccas Project blog post!

The weather might not be great, but here at the Maccas project we are still full of energy and enthusiasm! We have been working as hard as ever to spread awareness of what we do- to raise awareness of suicide in young men and highlight how important it is that people look after their mental health. Here is an update of some of the exciting tasks we have been working on in recent times.

Our workshops are growing bigger and better

One of the most exciting things about the project remains the workshops being delivered in schools across Staffordshire. These workshops focus on the differences between mental and physical health, how young people can look after their mental wellbeing and help explain how serious a problem suicide is in young men. Did you know for example that three quarters of all suicides in the UK are by men and that it is the biggest killer of men under 45? These workshops also signpost young people to important services that can help if they are struggling with their mental health or suicidal feelings. The Maccas Project has its very own web app which you can access at www.peaceofmind.help with lots of helpful advice on self-care and positive thinking. The team have also devised and delivered a new ‘Coping Strategies’ workshop, which focusses on ways for young people to enhance their mental wellbeing and look after themselves. This was a very creative workshop that involves lots of drawing and colour that encourages participants to get in touch with their emotions! We have been delighted at some of the feedback we have received during the workshops. For one student the workshop they attended “opened my eyes” and “helped to point out when and where I could get help”. Another participant said their workshop “was a very enlightening session and I feel that everyone should have to do a session like this”. Since the beginning of the new school year we have delivered these workshops to nearly 1000 young people and we intend to reach the 1000 figure and beyond as 2017 continues!

Speaking to young men in new ways

The last few months have also seen the project develop the types of services we offer young men. We have recently set up ‘drop in’ services where young men can come along and talk about any mental health issues they may be having and discuss the way in which they feel the stigma around mental health can be reduced- this is a vital way to consult with the people who know best about what more than be done to reduce the stigma around mental health and suicide. This service began at the Burslem Campus of Stoke-on-Trent College and we are now also running a similar service at St Joseph’s College.

These drop-in services are not just being held in schools and colleges however. We are meeting with young people On Thursday February 9th we are holding an event at Pilgrims Pit in Stoke Town Centre from 4-5PM which we would encourage any young people to attend. From Monday 27 February, we will also be holding a drop in group at the Ruff N Ruby Rooms in the Potteries Shopping Centre in Hanley every Monday from 2:30-4:00. We are very fortunate to be working with these vibrant local community organisations and want as many people as possible to get involved! These groups will be an ideal opportunity to socialise, meet like-minded people, make new friends, and help the Maccas team look at how to support young men in the most effective way.

Building links across the community

At the heart of our project is raising awareness, and reducing the stigma around, mental health and suicide. As part of our drive to raise awareness, the Maccas Team have been busy visiting locations across the community and building links with local businesses. One of the first things we did towards this goal was to visit local GP surgeries to drop off our leaflets. If your local surgery hasn’t got any yet please let us know on our Facebook page and we’ll try to deliver some more! In December the project attended an event for GPs at Port Vale Football Club with other staff from North Staffs Mind to raise our profile directly with NHS professionals. We have also travelled across the area delivering leaflets to a wide range of places including pubs, bottle bars and tattoo parlours. It was hard for the team to resist getting a tattoo but we all managed! We will be visiting lots of other places in the area in the coming weeks so if you know of somewhere that would be interested in displaying our promotional materials please message us on our Facebook page.

We have also been busy talking out our information stand to events across the community. One of the best events we visited was for World Mental Health Day back in October, where we took our stand to Keele University alongside a number of other local charitable organisations. The whole day was extremely well attended and it was a great opportunity to discuss mental health and suicide prevention with students who are often particularly affected by mental health issues. The theme of World Mental Health Day was ‘psychological first aid’ and everyone who came to our stand was given a plaster to represent the fact that we need to look after our minds when they are in distress just as we would use a plaster if we suffered a physical injury.

We are only a small team and we are indebted to all of our supporters and volunteers. One of our volunteers is Jamie who continues to do fantastic work for us. Jamie visited a foster carer event for us where he talked to the police, foster carers, and social workers about what services North Staffs Mind provide. He also listened to some empowering speakers who talked about child exploitation, gangs and personal testimonies about being in foster care, Jamie also went to the ‘While we Were Waiting’ event organised by Healthwatch Stoke-on-Trent which aimed to better understand the experiences of young people, as well their families, friends and communities when faced with long waiting lists. Jamie spoke to local organisations and parents about what the Maccas Project does, and how it began.

Fundraising is fun!

The Maccas Team never forgets how the project came about and we have been working closely to support the fundraising efforts that Tom’s family work tremendously hard to put on. Back in October they organised a curry night at Nirvanna in Newcastle that raised over £1400 for the project. On December 27 the Project also held a night of ‘Super Magical Medicine’ at Blakey’s Café Bar in Newcastle which was also a tremendous success. Look out for upcoming events on our Facebook Page, including how the Maccas Project will be getting involved with the JCB Mud Run on July 1st. If you would like to run and raise funds for the project and celebrate the life and legacy of Maccas himself then let us know and we will help publicise your fundraising efforts!

Upcoming Events

The best way to keep up to date with what we will be doing is to like us on our Facebook Page if you haven’t done so already. Aside from our drop in groups planned for February 9 and 27 that we’ve highlighted already, we will also be attending the Celebration of Volunteering event hosted by North Staffs Voice for Mental Health on Thursday March 2 at Newcastle Methodist church.

Thanks for reading our second blog and keep a look out for our next one. Until then thanks for all your support in helping break the stigma around mental health and suicide!