The City of Wolverhampton Council is helping men to look after their mental health, as the cost of living crisis continues to put pressure on people’s finances and wellbeing.

The Mandem Meetup is a non profit group set up in Manchester 3 years ago aimed at supporting men’s mental wellbeing through creating safe spaces for men to talk, whether it’s meetings or outdoor activities like hiking.

Jamie Lewis and friend Christian Denton, both grew up and live on the Dovecotes estate in the city and set up the first Mandem Meetup group outside of Manchester in January this year to help Wolverhampton men

They are passionate about breaking the stigma that stops men talking openly about their mental health.

The City of Wolverhampton Council is investing £10,000 from the Government’s Household Support Fund to help the group flourish and grow, especially during the current cost of living crisis.  

Both Jamie and Christian have had their own challenges to overcome, so understand how difficult it can be for men to be open about their problems and seek help.

After a 20 year battle with alcoholism Jamie sought help at Alcoholics Anonymous.

‘It’s been a journey of reflection and looking at the cause of my problems, like most men I struggled to open up and discuss my problems for fear of being judged,’ said Jamie.

‘We want to help create a community of strong men, who aren’t afraid to ask for help when they need it and who can talk to each other and share problems.

‘We want to help men break cycles, which have maybe been destructive for them in the past and help them realise they can create new healthier habits, which can sometimes literally be lifesavers.

‘‘We don’t want the cost of living crisis to make it difficult for some men to join us, so this investment by the council will help ensure we can help with transport to outdoor activities and appropriate trainers and clothing for any of our outdoor activities.

‘Everyone should have the chance to put some time aside to nurture their mental wellbeing, which can in turn have a positive effect on the rest of their lives and their friends and family.’

Christian adds: ‘My own journey so far has been one of many obstacles, which I overcame through physical and spiritual pursuits. I took up hiking and wild camping and it was this that connected me with long time friend Jamie, who was on his own journey of change and we came together to really help each other.

‘We documented it on social media and people started to reach out. Growing up we never had any real role models, guidance or positive outlets to channel our energies.

‘We recognised this is what our community needs, so in the summer of 2021 Jamie and I planned to bring a men's community to Wolverhampton. During this time, we had been doing a lot of work with the Mandem Meet Up and we grew close with the original founders in Manchester, who reached out to me and asked us if we would be interested in starting a branch in Wolverhampton.

‘On 1 January this year we launched our first hike and we had 18 men attend the hike and talking circle. The group has grown into more than 100 men now, all empowering each other to be pillars of our community and be the men that this society deserves.’

Acting Leader of the Council, Councillor Stephen Simkins said: “We all need good mental health and in these difficult times we all face even more pressures, financial and otherwise which can jeopardise our mental wellbeing.

“Mandem Meet Up is offering a great outlet for men to get together and look after their physical and mental health, while getting out in the great outdoors.

“It’s important we support men to help themselves and I wouldn’t want the cost of living crisis to stand in the way of that, so it’s vital we support projects like this one, which benefit everyone in the long run.”

Mandem Meetup Wolves meets on the first Monday of each month at 6pm to the Tribe Café at The Haymarket, Pendeford, WV8 1XE, just pop along to find out more about getting involved.