A growing men’s mental health support group based in North Staffordshire has received a major financial boost thanks to bereaved families from Newcastle- under-Lyme.

The Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) has donated £10,000 to Men Unite – which provides a range of services encouraging men to talk about their problems and overcome them – after the Council nominated it as its chosen beneficiary for funds raised from the ICCM’s metal recycling scheme.

The ICCM runs a scheme for its members, based on one initiated by the Dutch Cremation Federation, where metals remaining following cremation are recycled with the express consent of the families involved. It’s operated on a non commercial, open accounting basis, with all surplus monies shared among selected charities.

Men Unite, set up in April 2019 by electrician Craig Spillane from Talke Pits, started off as a private Facebook group for a small number of close friends as a safe forum to discuss personal issues but it expanded rapidly and now has 14,000 members, from 80 countries, who have access to support 24 hours a day, seven days a week from trained volunteers. The community interest company, which is becoming a charity, has since launched a daily hub at Hanley Town FC – where men have access to professional counselling services – a Sunday league football team as well as a well-being league in partnership with Stoke City FC and Staffordshire FA, a food  bank and a mental health workshop programme.

The £10,000 donation will be used to fund future counselling services, including specific sessions focusing on bereavement, and enhance the new Daniel Platt memorial lounge at the drop-in hub. The lounge is a place where visitors can sit and reflect and is named in honour of a Men Unite member who sadly took his own life.

Pictured (left to right) is David Banks, from the Council’s Bereavement Services, who suggested the nomination to the ICCM and Men Unite founder Craig Spillane.

Craig, 42, said: “I didn’t know that metals could be recycled in this way, it’s an amazing thing. We’re a small charitable organisation so any donations we receive make a huge difference and go straight into helping people. We’re just so grateful.

“Men Unite encourages men to speak out about their problems instead of bottling it up and eventually taking their own life. Male suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45, one person loses their life in this way every two hours. They’re frightening statistics. I’ve experienced troubles – and I’ve got a broad spectrum of friends from different walks of life who have as well for various reasons – so that understanding underpins everything we do. This fantastic donation will help us to continue providing immediate counselling sessions for those who are struggling. This extremely quick service is very important as it can mean the difference between life and death. We’re so honoured to be nominated for the donation.
I’m really proud that we are able to make such a difference to so many people’s lives.”

The ICCM donated £10,000 to the Dove Service, a local grief support charity, in January.

Cllr Trevor Johnson, Cabinet member for environment and recycling, is the portfolio holder for bereavement services. Cllr. Johnson said: “We’re very pleased that the ICCM has accepted our second nomination and donated another £10,000 to such a great local cause. This is only possible because of the selfless actions of bereaved families who have decided to allow metals remaining following cremation to be recycled in this way. Men Unite are doing excellent work in the local area to address male mental health, something which has been affected by the pandemic, so this money will have a massive impact. I hope this provides residents who have lost a loved one with some level of comfort.”

Reusing metal, which would otherwise never break down, is also environmentally friendly as it preserves non-renewable resources. The ICCM, founded in 1913, provides policy and best practice guidance to burial and cremation authorities in the UK as well as representing them at Government level.

(Main image – Pictured (left to right) is David Banks, from the Council’s Bereavement Services, who suggested the nomination to the ICCM and Men Unite founder Craig Spillane.)

Men Unite – visit www.menunite.org

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