I recently wrote an article for a local newspaper called The Western Telegraph about Get The Boys A Lift, a not for profit organization based here in Pembrokeshire helping local and national mental health organizations (and if you haven’t already heard of them, where have you been?!)
The organization was set up in 2016 by Gareth Owens, and began that year with him hitchhiking around Wales selling T-Shirts, meeting people and raising money for a charity called PAPYRUS.
In 2017 it became Get The Boys A Lift and joined by his friends Noah, Greg, Tom and Ryan, another two hitchhiking adventures have taken place in 2017 and 2018.
Beginning from a simple idea of “you don’t have to know somebody to give them a lift,” this organization pushes the notion of speaking out. Sparking a conversation about mental health is sometimes all it takes to get the ball rolling and The Boys have done just that.
2018 saw the five boys behind the organization travel to five different cities and 2000 miles all to start a conversation about mental health. The Boys traveled from Pembrokershire to Cardiff, London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin and back only during the hours between sunrise to sunset and not spending any money at all on transport. How did they do it? By simply asking for lifts from complete (kindhearted) strangers! Each lift, each conversation, has opened people up to the subject of mental health and raised awareness to the power of speaking out, even to strangers. No one should ever feel like they have to suffer alone and in silence, there are people everywhere who are willing to listen.
The Boys work hard within the local community, previously raising over £12,000 to local and national causes such as Papyrus, MIND, The DPJ Foundation and the VC Gallery. As well as making and selling T-shirts and other merchandise to raise funds for the charity daily, The Boys have recently taken on a premise on Dew Street in Haverfordwest, which they aim to transform into a drop in facility for the community.
Get The Boys A Lift is about breaking down barriers and helping those who are just about managing with health problems – not only those who might need to be referred for serious help.
“Someone with severe mental health will go to MIND but there are a group of people on the surface going out and living everyday life but they still need help too.” This is the group of people that Gareth believes Get The Boys A Lift could help.
Their new shop and drop-in centre is at 7a Dew Street, Haverfordwest and is currently being renovated, aiming to be ready by January. The plan is to offer a casual coffee shop atmosphere for people to meet up and just socialize while at the same time having help on hand for anyone with mental health problems wanting a place to chat.
“It is all about making mental health support more accessible for younger people. We want to make it easy to come here. This can be your coffee haunt but it just happens you can go downstairs and chat to someone about what is bugging you for ten minutes.”
Doing great things for Pembrokeshire, younger and older generations alike, these boys really do deserve some acknowledgement for all the hard work they are doing and have done to help end the stigma around mental health. In Wales, around £600m is invested in mental health services a year, which is more than any other health service in the NHS (mentalhealth.org). In a 2015 survey, results found that 13% of adults (aged 16 and over) were reported to have received treatment for mental health problems, and that number is increasing yearly. There has never been a better time to talk about mental health.
Check out The Western Telegraph online to read my article or pick up a copy in any newspaper shop if you’re local!
For more info head to Get The Boys A Lift (and if you do live locally, head over to Dew Street and give The Boys a hand with their renovation!)
(I’ve written a previous blog post about mental health here if you fancy a little read 🙂 )