A mental health wellbeing group set up by a lifelong Evertonian is giving men the opportunity to join a special walk ahead of Everton’s Premier League fixture with West Ham United on Sunday 17 October.
Jay Deakin, who formed Talkhub has teamed up with the Everton Fans’ Forum to encourage men over the age of 18 to join a special 2.2 mile ‘Walk and Talk’ from the Bramley-Moore Pub on Regent Road to Goodison Park.
The initiative is aimed at giving men the opportunity to open up about their mental health issues in a safe, welcoming environment. The ‘Walk and Talk’ sessions offer both health and therapeutic benefits by giving participants the chance to breath fresh air and experience the outdoors, while walking relaxes the mind enough to loosen anxiety and allow natural conversation.
Participants are encouraged to meet outside the Bramley-Moore Pub, opposite the site of Everton’s new stadium at 11.30am and make the 45-minute to one-hour walk to Goodison Park prior to the Blues’ clash with the Hammers.
For supporters who wish to show their support and join in the last mile, the group will pass Powerleague Liverpool (the Pitz football pitches) on Whittle Street at approximately 12pm.
Jay Deakin, founder of Talkhub, said: “It will be great to see as many men as possible join our walk from Bramley-Moore Pub to Goodison Park.
“As a Season Ticket Holder who goes home and away, Everton plays a major part in my life. I have met so many amazing people through going to football and if this ‘Walk and Talk’ can help just one person it will be so worth it.
“To be clear you don’t have to talk on the walk if you don’t want to, it is a safe space so you can choose to listen and see how we do things or you can just come along to show your support for men’s mental health.
“The suicide rates for men are scary – men account for 75 per cent of all suicides – so we just want to make sure men have an outlet like this where they feel like they can open up and talk.”
Jay – who has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and has struggled with his own mental health – formed Talkhub in February 2020.
The initiative has grown to become a not-for-profit organisation helping more than 100 men in the Merseyside and Cheshire region through ‘Walk and Talks’, zoom calls and mental health football programmes.
Inspired by Jay’s story and determination to help others, the special Goodison bound ‘Walk and Talk’ is supported by the Everton Fans’ Forum. Forum Vice-Chair David Wycherley has attended and participated in previous Talkhub sessions and ‘Walk and Talk’.
“I first got to know Jay during lockdown,” said David, who opened up about his own mental health.
“Due to a lack of football and the deep impacts of the pandemic I felt isolated and had poor mental health. The ‘Walk and Talks’ and zoom calls really helped me as Jay introduced me to an inspirational community of men who had similar or different stories to me but were ultimately suffering with poor mental health.
“I am proud that the Everton Fans’ Forum have been able to support Talkhub with this walk and delighted that Jay is putting on a special walk on matchday starting opposite the site of our future stadium and ending at our beloved Goodison Park home.
"I would encourage any men over the age of 18 to come down and get involved. Mental health is no longer a taboo subject and talking about it is a sign of strength. The only thing Jay asks is we respect each other, be non-judgemental and we give support to each other at all times. Just for peace of mind, everything that is said is completely confidential.”
Talkhub offers participants two walks a month and will be launching a men’s mental health boxing programme in the coming weeks. The not-for-profit organisation also link up Enjoy Football to deliver football sessions every Friday.