An award-winning wellbeing company is drawing on Grimsby’s maritime heritage as it looks to support men’s mental health with a pioneering initiative.
The Westerly Club has been launched by Fortis Therapy and Training, bridging the gap between one-to-one counselling and national support groups.
High profile ambassadors from the business community have been recruited to engage and get people talking.
They aim to break the silence and remove the stigma that exacerbates the issue at a time when there “has never been such a need, such a call to arms, to support men’s mental health”.
Four years in development, it has been sparked by demand for services, with Fortis operating across Grimsby, Hull and Scunthorpe.
Alexis Powell-Howard, founding director and psychotherapist, said: “We have seen an increasing number of male clients coming to us, all struggling.
“Societal expectations of what men ‘should’ be and that they ‘should’ be able to cope have taken their toll and currently there is nothing out there to bridge the gap for people who perhaps aren’t ready for one-to-one therapy but need or would like to access support.
“There is nothing in the way of a support group for men in its own right – and that’s where The Westerly Club comes in.
“Men don’t access therapy because they often feel they need to be strong. It’s usually a result of the fact that they have had to be strong for such a long period of time and that showing signs of struggle or emotion will undermine who they are and what they stand for.”
Launching to coincide with World Mental Health Day, it promotes a safe environment where men can talk, access support and be part of a community.
The name harks back to the bygone fishing days when you would lean on your closest crew member - your ‘Westerly’ - if the day’s catch had been disappointing. Named after the favourable fishing wind direction, he would be there to support you, share dinner and a pint, and to lift you up when you’re feeling down.
“The Westerly Club will be space for men to support men,” Alexis, a TedX speaker, said. “There are so many younger men, teenagers even, who are just wanting to hang around with blokes, to feel included while at the other end of the spectrum there are the older generations who are lonely. For us, this is about empowering men by creating a club which evolves into what they want it to be. Where they can find support, genuine empathy and level of interaction they don’t get elsewhere.
“We already support those working in construction, logistics, renewables industries, the police, law firms, schools, food manufacturing, the military, sportsmen and the agricultural and chemical industries. Many of these are hard, physical and often unsociable industries to work in and many are potentially stressful sectors to work in too. Finding a way to reach out to all of those industries, those hard industries was vital.”
Open to over 16s from Monday, October 12, a closed Facebook group will function as the club’s meeting space for now, ahead of social events post-pandemic.
Ambassadors will be on hand for members to chat to while also acting as conversation starters.
The faces of The Westerly Club are: Garry Bainbridge, director of IshFish UK and professional yachtsman; Steven Bennett, owner and chef patron at Healing Manor Hotel 'The Lincolnshire Chef'; Chris Carr, joint managing director of Carr & Carr (Builders), and national representative for housebuilders liaising with government, and a former coach at Grimsby RUFC; Rob Draper, assistant operations manager at ABP, former British Army and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor; Christian Reavill, plasterer and committee member at Holton-le-Clay Cricket Club; Andy Rouse, chief executive of Pinnacle and Fusion Interactive Corporation, a former professional pool player and Pitch at the Palace mentor and Vince Weavers, co-founder of Ebb & Flo Living, environmental campaigner and project and contract manager at Ørsted.
Find out more about the Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre and other Shipshape Network North Projects here.