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

Opened on April 7, 2020, the early intervention service in Chester Street, Birkenhead was established to help men experiencing mental issues.

It marked its second anniversary with a special performance at Prenton Rugby Club on Thursday.

Featuring thought-provoking songs, drama and personal insights, it was written and performed by those who use JourneyMen Wirral's services.

It was produced in conjunction with the organisation's ambassador, Birkenhead-born actress and comedienne Pauline Daniels and LIPA drama student Conrad Smith as part of his final end of year project.

A celebratory cake was then cut.

Wirral Globe:

Performance during JourneyMen Wirral's second anniversary celebration. Picture: Craig Manning

As the name suggests, JourneyMen Wirral's aim is 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.

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 was used by the charity throughout the pandemic for its outdoor talking therapy work.

Wirral Globe:

Watching JourneyMen Wirral's second anniversary performance. Picture: Craig Manning

Among the performers on Thursday was Michael, 77, who eventually found himself at JourneyMen Wirral following the death of a friend, who passed away during the pandemic.

In a speech to the audience, he said: "We were great friends for 12 years. Through Covid, because I wasn't able to go and see her, she went downhill and passed away.

"It broke me up, because I had nowhere to turn. I needed help.

"Since I joined JourneyMen I've never enjoyed myself so much.

"All you guys have been become friends. I've had a fabulous time.

"I've got friends and a reason to live. I'll never leave."

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.

Looking back on the last two years Phil told the Globe following Thursday's performance: "It’s flown by, but when I look back sometimes it seems a lot longer really.

"But, from where we were two years to where we are now, I couldn’t be any more proud of it.

"I’ve got wonderful staff and there’s wonderful unity. The LIPA production was wonderful and it really brought the community, especially after two years of Covid.

“Who would have thought, 12 months ago, that we could get this many people together in one place for an event that put smiles on our faces. Conrad has done brilliant with the production.

“It’s a journey for me and a journey for the community.”

Wirral Globe:

Pauline Daniels, service user Michael and JourneyMen Wirral's founder Phil Roberts cut the cake during charity's second anniversary celebration. Picture: Craig Manning

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 those JourneyMEN support are experiencing high levels of anxiety.

In total, more than 500 men have signed up for help since the organisation was formed.

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: "That journey could be anything, helping or supporting – it doesn't matter, as long as we’re talking and the men are talking to us.

"Mental health covers a vast range of subjects - loneliness, anxiety, depression, suicidal.

"Whatever that person wants to call it, it's their journey. They'll bring it to us and we'll deal with it together.

"Since we opened, we've had over 500 men through our doors. But we also deal with their kids, their wives, partners, etc. So that 500 men could be timed by three or four - that's the amount of people we are dealing with.

"It's a journey for me, a journey for the community ... just a nice journey to be on.

"After Covid, it's much-needed."

Wirral Globe:

JourneyMEN’s chief executive Phil Roberts pictured in the organisation’s counselling room at the Birkenhead premises. Picture by Craig Manning

Recognition of JourneyMEN’s effective interventions was given last year when it was 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.

Phil said recently: "We remain a grass roots organisation at the heart of our community.

"The service came about at the right time. Covid-19 had come and the country was shut down; people didnt 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."

The anniversary show's co-producer Conrad Smith said: "This is the sort of work I want to go into; working with communities that don't typically get involved in theatre.

"I was searching for men's mental health charities across Wirral on a website.

"A different website came up saying 'the best ones in Merseyside' and JourneyMen came top of the list.

"So I sent an email over to Phil. He was great, so pro-active and set up a meeting for us to talk more about it.

"JourneyMen were great in promoting the production and helping to get such a big audience."

Pauline Daniels, who will be joining the organisation as a volunteer, told the Globe: "I've grown really fond of the lads and have a nice rapport with them.

"We talk and I've been able to go back to the office and say 'so and so's this and so and so's that' and I just thought 'I need to know a bit more so that I can put them in the right direction myself'.

"So I want to be a bit more involved."

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