South Shields man left devastated by fibromyalgia and arthritis sets up new support group to help men talk about their health

A man who was forced to give up work due to poor health is now looking to support others in need with a new support group.

Kevin Waggott, from South Shields, who worked in the homelessness and drug sector for 20 years, but said he had no option but to quit working when his health got the better of him.

The 49-year-old worked for charity Changing Lives and was always very active, running and cycling until 2011 when he started experiencing a few pains and niggles, but put it down to being too over active.

Over the next year or so, he struggled to exercise and was in constant pain and feeling fatigued all the time.

Men shaking hands

He visited his GP regularly but felt like he wasn’t being understood.

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“After hospital appointments, blood tests etc I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2019 then arthritis not long after,” he said.

"It was great to finally know what was wrong with me and it wasn't just in my head as this would have an impact on my mental health.

“Since then, my health took a dive and I've recently been diagnosed with a number of other conditions.”

Kevin said he has found his condition lonely and exhausting and realised too many men take their own lives instead of talking about their health.

He decided to take action and create a space where men could talk about their health.

“I set up the Facebook group to reach out to men and to have a safe and non judgemental space for men to be open,” he said.

"This is not a medical service, but I share medical information on things such as prostate and testicular cancer, mental health and healthy eating etc.

“My hope is that the group becomes a place for men to support each other, share stories and forget that old myth that men should be men and not show emotions or admit there's something wrong.”

In the long term Kevin would like to set up a face-to-face group with volunteers to support others to attend health appointments, advice on benefits and employment or just be a friendly ear.

To join the Facebook group visit