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Newcastle United Foundation offering free mental health support to fans this International Men's Day

St. James' Park is opening its doors to provide a safe, confidential space for men to talk openly about mental health matters through Newcastle United Foundation's Be A Game Changer campaign.

Each week, men from across the North East can attend the peer support group hosted by the official charity arm of Newcastle United and talking group organisation, Andy's Man Club, as they partner up to provide mental health support to those who need it most.

The talking group is one of several health and wellbeing services available through the Foundation this International Men's Day as the charity continues its campaign to encourage men to start potentially lifesaving conversations.

International Men's Day is celebrated annually on 19th November and is an opportunity to make a positive difference to the wellbeing and lives of men and boys through conversations about men, manhood and masculinity.

Core themes of the day also address male suicide rates and mental health issues which the Foundation aims to tackle through its award-winning Be A Game Changer campaign.

Ashley Lowe, Health and Wellbeing Manager at Newcastle United Foundation, said: "Suicide rates among men in the North East are among the highest in the country so we are doing everything we can to address that and to break down the stigmas that prevent people from seeking help.

"It can be incredibly daunting to talk about how we are really feeling, and we understand that it can be difficult to start those conversations with family, friends and loved ones.

"Our Monday night peer support group is an opportunity for men to come to St. James' Park, sit with a hot drink and to simply talk about their lives - everyone will be listened to and supported through whatever challenges they're facing.

"We launched Be A Game Changer knowing that at any given United home game, around 12,989 supporters will be experiencing a mental health problem. We are here with Andy's Man Club to let them know they are not alone, and they can access support within the Newcastle United community."

The support group is free and open every Monday night, from 7pm, excluding bank holidays, for all men over the age of 18 - from football fans to fathers, brothers, sons, and uncles, who are facing challenges in any aspects of their life.

No bookings or referrals are necessary to join the free and confidential group which is run solely by Andy's Man Club facilitators.

Neil Waine, Project Development Champion at Andy's Man Club, said: "The club is a safe, non-judgemental, confidential space for men to go and about talk openly with their peers.

"Since being founded in July 2016 after the tragic loss of Andy Roberts - a 23-year-old father of a two-year-old daughter in West Yorkshire - Andy's Man Club now has around 70 clubs nationwide from as far up as Aberdeen to Plymouth and Devon.

"Our sessions at St. James' Park in Newcastle are challenging the stigmas that stop men from talking - stigmas like weakness, burden and embarrassment. We will continue to challenge and overcome these issues together by letting people know it's okay to talk."

The Foundation's dedicated Be A Game Changer webpage and Foundation social media share tips on keeping physically and mentally healthy, signposts to support for yourself or a friend, and a space to share the stories and experiences of Magpies supporters.

The campaign is funded by Newcastle City Council, North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network, Premier League Charitable Fund, and The National Lottery Community Fund, helping provide mental wellness-boosting sessions like Sleep and Stress workshops, Walking Football for older players of the game and 24/7 textline support by texting 'BAGC' to 85258.

For more information about Be A Game Changer or for help and advice from Newcastle United Foundation, visit nufoundation.org.uk/beagamechanger.

"Our sessions at St. James' Park are challenging the stigmas that stop men from talking - stigmas like weakness, burden and embarrassment. We will continue to challenge and overcome these issues together by letting people know it's okay to talk."

Neil Waine, Project Development Champion, Andy's Man Club

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