A SUPPORT group which helped shatter the stigma around men’s mental health has closed its doors – as a national charity prepares to step in.

‘Mind Ya Marras’ provided a safe space for men to socialise, share stories and experiences and help one another through difficult times.

It was set up in Mirehouse in 2019 and later moved to the Garry Purdham Suite at Whitehaven RLFC.

The group’s final meeting was held on Monday, ahead of Andy’s Man Club, a national suicide prevention charity, expanding into Whitehaven.

Gavin Cattanachi, one of the founding members of ‘Mind Ya Marras’ told The Whitehaven News: “I feel it was the right time. Over the years, I’ve seen it damage quite a lot of volunteers. It takes its toll because it’s quite heavy work.

“Andy’s Man Club has got the size and the structure to deal with that and share the load. They don’t get the out of hours stuff which can be quite psychologically damaging.

“We started all of this based on Andy Man Club’s idea. I’m glad we’ve filled the gap and I’m glad there’s something coming along to develop that area, which can help more people.

“It’s a great thing for the area. They’ve got loads of momentum. They maybe can’t offer the intricate details that we can but they can offer wider support.”

A statement from ‘Mind Ya Marras’ posted on social media read: “On Monday, December 18, Mind Ya Marras will close its doors for the final time. This comes with huge mixed emotions for us. There’s sadness, some relief and a fair amount of pride at a job well done.

“With the ever growing presence of Andy’s Man Club in the area and looking to expand into Whitehaven we feel it the ideal time to let someone else have a go.

“It’s been incredibly rewarding but it came with a heavy mental burden for a small team of volunteers and it’s just the ideal time to let our pals at AMC step in.

“We provided something there wasn’t. We were aware of AMC when we started and even contemplated being them on a few occasions but chose to do our own thing autonomously.

“In the time we’ve existed AMC have absolutely blown up all over the UK and Whitehaven deserves to have one. We’re happy to ride off into the sunset knowing things are in good hands.

“We’ve laughed a lot and we’ve cried a bit. We’ve met some great people and we’ve sadly lost some great people too.

“Watching people grow and evolve and putting smiles back on sad faces has been the most rewarding thing imaginable. It’s been a blast and we thank everyone that’s had the courage to walk through our doors with all our hearts.

“We always tried to keep MYM simple and very low cost and have spent very little of the kind donations we’ve received over the last 4+ years so we have decided to give this money to a number of charities.”

Andy’s Man Club is due to be set up in Whitehaven on January 8.