Students’ sponsored runs see several thousands raised for South Tyneside mental health centre
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Angie Angus, a team lead at the Mental Health Concern group, which operates across the North East, says the generous donation will allow the organisation to fund new community projects in the area at a ‘critical time’ for such services locally.
A group of young lads, coordinated by architecture student Nathan Johnson, managed to secure £3,000 for the borough’s Kind Mind Community recovery college.
The South Tyneside recovery centre provides specialist NHS-commissioned services that include care for dementia or other complex mental health conditions and work designed to help those receiving care to transition into education, training or jobs.
Managers at the charity were bowled over by the young men’s fundraising efforts – which consisted of a gruelling two-day-long running challenge.
"We were really blown away by it,” Ms Angus said.
"Our work in South Tyneside is aimed not just at people struggling with their mental health, but also those who care for people with mental health issues. I think mental health carers can be often be overlooked when we talk about the subject.
"This money will pay for grassroots projects with a peer-support approach where people aren’t told what to do – instead, we help them realise and recognise their strengths, as well as better manage their mental health.
"With everything that the past year has brought, support for this kind of work in South Tyneside is as critical as ever.”
New figures suggest around one in seven people suffer from depression across South Tyneside, with national charity Mind warning that England is facing a “mental health epidemic” as the country transitions out of a third national lockdown.
The four young men started their marathon fundraising run at 4am on Saturday, April 3, running in continuous four-hour intervals before finishing at midnight on Sunday, April 4.
Nathan, 22, who is in the fifth year of his undergraduate course at Northumbria University, told The Gazette that the pandemic had brought mental health concerns to the surface among a number of his cohort.
"Initially, we’d wanted to do this challenge as a test of our own mental and physical strength,” he said.
"And then one of the lads, Matthew, suggested, ‘We’re doing this anyway, so we might as well try to raise at least a little bit of money’.”
"We wanted to pick a smaller charity to maximise some of the impacts this money could have, which is why we chose Concern, as well as to keep the money in the North East.
"A couple of us have struggled with mental health during the lockdown periods and we wanted to encourage people through this fundraiser to seek out help if they find they’re struggling.
"There’s still too much of a stigma to ‘man up’ and just to get on with things even when people are going through real difficulties.”