THE message on a wall in JourneyMen Wirral’s counselling room is simple but direct ... You’ll never walk alone.

Opened on April 7 last year, the early intervention service in Chester Street, Birkenhead helps men experiencing mental issues and needs your support.

As the name suggests, it seeks to take clients on a journey through their problems and back to a more at ease way of life, with help from a team of counsellors and other healthcare professionals.

Since it opened a year ago today, the organisation has helped more than 200 people.

Its 'journey plan' involves counselling, training and help to prepare clients for work or become volunteers.

Activities include a weekly ‘walk and talk’ event in Birkenhead Park, which has been used by JourneyMEN throughout the pandemic for its outdoor talking therapy work.

The organisation was set up by ex-police officer and Liverpool fan Phil Roberts, who left the force to concentrate solely on JourneyMen’s work, after learning how difficult it was for those feeling rough to access support.

Phil told the Globe: "We set up JourneyMEN a year ago to help de-escalate the rise in male mental health crises on Wirral and the Northwest.

"It's been a roller coaster year for many people and I know that JourneyMEN has made a difference to the lives of those we help.

"We were established for the needs of our men and will continue – as our strapline states – working together for our men."

The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, in particular, had a damaging effect on men in Wirral. Some experienced mental health problems for the first time and others had increased severity of existing problems. All of the those JourneyMEN support are experiencing high levels of anxiety.

In total, 220 men have signed up for help during the past year.

They were provided with tailored help including professional one-to-one counselling, activities based therapies such as narrowboat excursions, sea fishing events, cycling, walking and social activities.

Phil added: "Our programme of activities and events are essentially designed by our men with the specific goal of reducing isolation, encouraging social and community interaction.

"They're also designed so we can all have a laugh. We're definitely not a clinical environment.”

Recognition of JourneyMEN’s effective interventions was given earlier this year when they were awarded a three-year contract by the CWP NHS Foundation Trust to provide support to those men across Wirral accessing mental health support via the CWP’s Access Team.

Wirral Council has also commissioned JourneyMEN for its early intervention work in reducing and preventing suicides in male adults.

During his time in the police force, Phil Roberts was part of an early help team and saw first-hand how devastating depression can be on men.

Shortly after getting in touch with various contacts in the mental healthcare sector, an open day was held and attended by lots of relevant organisations from across the borough.

Among them was Neo Community Cafe, which agreed to provide premises along Chester Street as a base for JourneyMEN to do its operations and counselling sessions.

Looking back on the last 12 months Phil added: "We've come a long way in a year, but we remain a grass roots organisation at the heart of our community.

"We were seed funded locally by the Steve Morgan Foundation without whom we would not have got off the ground so quickly.

"And we benefitted from the National Lottery’s funding into our community.”

"The service came about at the right time. Covid-19 had come and the country was shut down; people didn’t know what was going to happen next.

"My intelligence on male health in Wirral was non-existent, even though I had spent 17 years working in the borough as a police officer.

"My choice of Liverpool's anthem You’ll never walk alone is our message was the obvious one.

"Our clients will never walk alone, as we help them cope with whatever problems they are dealing with."

For more details, or to support the organisation, visit: or