Grimsby Telegraph

The men who patrol hotspots visited by those struggling with mental health

PAIR EXPAND VITAL SUPPORT SERVICE

- By GREGORY FORD gregory.ford@reachplc.com @FordWrit

TWO men who have helped save people from taking their own lives are expanding their support to people in North and North East Lincolnshi­re.

Rick Roberts and Mick Leyland who have both had first hand of experience mental health struggles set up the Bearded Fisherman charity in October 2019.

Rick and Mick began offering online support to those who got in touch through their Facebook page and held weekly meet-ups, which then expanded to a dedicated support centre and crisis phone lines.

At the end of last year they also began the Night Watch project which saw teams patrolling suicide hotspots and now the service has expanded to North Lincolnshi­re and North East Lincolnshi­re.

Rick said: “We’re covering the whole of North Lincolnshi­re now and both banks of the Humber, including Grimsby and Cleethorpe­s, and we’re out on patrol at the known hotspots nightly.

“We have a map of incidents and known spots and we see the red dots and send our teams there - wherever they are needed in the area we can be there.

“It has been a tough year for everyone. We understand that and we need to be there for people more than ever now and that is what we’re trying to do.

“We’ve got 14 phone lines operating during office hours and we’ve got six overnight with trained staff that can help anyone that needs them at a critical moment.”

Both of the founding members of the charity have incredible stories of survival against the odds and both have experience­d their own suicide attempts.

Rick was homeless for some time after losing his job at a supermarke­t before he moved to Gainsborou­gh where he met Mick. The two became friends during weekly fishing outings with a group of other men.

They realised there was a gap in provision for mental health services that they could help plug with their own personal knowledge gained through experience and a new determinat­ion to give something back.

Now, with their operation offering assistance around the clock and busier than ever during the current climate, the charity are looking to raise money to expand the number of phone lines they can have open in the evening and ensure their Night Watch patrols continue.

In a drastic move for a pair known as the Bearded Fishermen, Rick has committed to shaving his face on a live stream when enough money has been raised and while Mick isn’t giving up his facial fuzz, he is also taking one for the team in his own way.

Rick said: “It has come from my Mrs to be honest, she’s been wanting it to be shaved off for ages, she says it is to big and scratchy and itchy which is partly true.

“I said I’ll do it but only if I can do some good with it and try and raise a bit of money too, we’ll be live streaming the shave-off once we reach a good total.

“Mick is getting involved too, he’s not touching the beard though - he said there was no chance. As a compromise we’re going to take a Bic to his head and he’s going to go bald.

“Any money raised really does mean the world to us, it means we can open the phone lines later and it will mean we have petrol and supplies for the patrols.

“We know times are tough so we’ve set the donations to a minimum of £1 because people are still struggling with money and work even though the world seems like it is opening up again.”

As part of their expansion into North and North East Lincolnshi­re, the charity is looking to team up with local hairdresse­rs, barbers and tattooists to begin their vision of the “biggest safe space in England”.

They’re looking to offer counsellin­g training to people working in these industries who often take on that role when chatting to customers anyway.

Their vision is a community of trained profession­als working in these environmen­ts who will be proud to be part of The Bearded Fishermen safe space scheme.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in you can call their office on 01427 619505. For more informatio­n on the shave-off you can visit Rick and Mick’s Justgiving page.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, you can contact the Bearded Fishermen support centre on 0300 365 0019 or find the website at www.beardedfis­hermen.org.uk/

It has been a tough year for everyone. We understand that and we need to be there for people more than ever now and that is what we’re trying to do.

Rick Roberts

 ??  ?? Rick and Mick of The Bearded Fishermen charity are set to lose a lot of hair in their latest fundraisin­g drive.
Rick and Mick of The Bearded Fishermen charity are set to lose a lot of hair in their latest fundraisin­g drive.
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