A blog and a poem from Willenhall Men’s Group for Time To Talk Day

Today is Time To Talk Day by the charity Mind, where we highlight the importance of having conversations about our mental health.

We’re focusing today on our Healthy Communities Together (HCT) programme in Coventry – a partnership in the Willenhall neighbourhood between the voluntary and community sector, the NHS and Coventry City Council to improve local health and wellbeing alongside local people. Funded by The National Lottery Community Fund with learning partner The King’s Fund.

We’re fortunate to also share a personal poem from Willenhall Men’s Group founding member Matt Loat, written for Time To Talk Day.

Grapevine’s programme manager and HCT convenor, Janet Doran, shares her thoughts:

“Willenhall Men’s Group has developed from the need for men in Willenhall who have suffered and/or are suffering from poor mental health or an enduring mental health illness. There has been some sort of Men’s Group in Willenhall for many years, but they have faded away when support for the group and funding became an issue. The latest group has come about through Healthier Communities Together.

“Healthier Communities Together seeks to create the conditions to shift health inequalities and improve resilience in the community and also apply the learning across Coventry and Warwickshire.

“We have approached delivering this by cultivating new collaborative leadership among the residents of Willenhall and local health and care professionals, with a long term aim of developing resident leaders who can work collaboratively with health and care professionals to reduce health inequalities by applying a socially informed model of health and care.

“The group has been established to be self supporting – it is not reliant on a paid worker to organise and support them.

Black man in a checked shirt next to words that say Time To Talk about mental health.

“Willenhall Men’s Group has been a resounding success, both in terms of the support that the men give each other, but also in influencing the local health system.

“One of the issues that the men raised was that being contacted by a ‘Withheld Number’ was contributing to their ill health. They have been able to influence a change in the system, so that a local solution to this issue was developed. This took a lot of grit and determination by the men. Professionals from the Healthier Together Partnership Team also made sure this issue was kept on the agenda and reinforced why it was important to make the change.

“A local mental health professional keeps in touch with the men – not because it’s part of her job, but because she can see how valuable this work is. Two of the men from the group have said that getting support from the group has literally saved their lives.

“From a system wide perspective, there is a move to engage people more in developing services and learn from their experiences. There is also a real emphasis on reducing health inequalities – being approached from health services on a condition by condition basis (e.g. working with people with COPD, or people with cancer).

“However, we know that the wider determinants of health influence health outcomes far more than the treatment you get once you develop a condition.

“Healthier Communities Together is working to encourage a different conversation between communities and health and care professionals to see what can be achieved. Willenhall Men’s Support is one of the successes of the partnership.”

Get in touch

Willenhall Men’s Support meet on Wednesdays from 4.30pm to 7.30pm at the Hagard Centre in Willenhall.

You can just drop in. You don’t have to say anything, or you can say a lot – it’s up to you, there’s no pressure.

If you would like to see whether this is for you, please contact the Hagard Centre on 024 76303266.

If you are interested in creating a Healthier Willenhall, please contact community organiser Edwin on 07395 633976.

Matt’s poem

It’s ‘Time to Talk’ day
The world is coming together
To acknowledge this challenging date
For me and so many others
Everyday day is a ‘Time to Talk’ day
A day we battle with an invisible illness
Jousting with our demons
Some days I just want to sit and cry
The ticking of the clock on the wall
Trapped in a nexus with a black nadir
Other days I’m ridden in the oubliette that is my mind
I’m the convict and the cop
I can escape anytime I want for I’m the one holding the keys
That’s scary
Knowing you’re the one whom is keeping you a prisoner
My anxiety keeps me rocking over the borderline and back again
Thoughts of traumatic nights when the sun was meant to shine
This broken cauchemar has no end
I’m alone in this storm
The eddy is spinning out of control like a tornado
I’m dying …..
I close my eyes as I succumb to my fate
There’s a whisper
It must be the schizophrenia again
No one’s here no one cares
What the fu….
I’m still here
I’ve a woken in a room
The darkness is gone
Everything is warm and bright
I … I….. know your face
I know your name
The silhouette softly says
“I’m a listening mate”
Why did you pull me from the maelstrom
Answer me you bastard
Why Why Why did you save me
A daily question
I scream it out
As once again I’ve survived
Another day in mental health with the scars painted upon the canvas that is my skin
Maybe one day you’ll answer me
Or I’ll save you in return
It’s what we do you see
In Willenhall Men’s Support

By Matt Loat


Sometimes the content shared on days like this can be overwhelming or difficult to read. The charity Samaritans say it’s OK to feel this way. It’s OK to not post anything. It’s OK to log off. It’s OK to do what’s right for you. Call 116 123 to talk if you need to.