North-east students have banded together to raise awareness of men’s mental health and the support available to those in need.
Bradley McAllister, of Oldmachar Academy, and his friends Kurtis Williams and Jamie Harper have taken up the challenge of a 12-hour long night-time walk around Aberdeen to help two charities that are very close to their hearts.
The 17-year-old organised the event to raise funds for Men Matter Scotland – whose work is dedicated to suicide prevention through promoting mental wellbeing – and Street Friends Helping the Homeless, who operate on the front line to help the homeless, vulnerable and poverty-stricken across the city.
Mr McAllister and his friends came up with the initiative after a friends’ brother took his own life.
The boys then got involved with Street Friends in October through their football team Westend FC.
“We were really touched by seeing these people and hearing their stories”, Mr McAllister said.
“It was an eye-opener for us really, so we wanted to do more to help them out.
“During the walk, our goal is to speak about mental health, suicide rates and what both the charities do, and discuss difficulties we’ve faced ourselves, as well as talk to homeless people we might see, give them food and help them however we can.”
The team mates will be joined by their coach Scott McDougall and Sam Raion of Street Friends.
Mr Raion has personally struggled with mental health issues and has lost friends to suicide.
Pleased to be invited to take part in the challenge, he said: “I can rely on the enthusiasm of the lads and coach Scott to help me complete the 12 hour event.
“The one thing I have from all my past history, is lived experience.
“If just one person can benefit from my being very open about my past or find strength to reach out when times get hard, then the lessons I have learned are not in vain.”
Street Friends founder Justin Ritchie added: “I am so very proud of the achievements of these young men – the next generation – and their coaches, families and supporters who are all raising awareness.
“It is a great honour to be included in the fundraising with Men Matter Scotland.”
The team will film the walk, which begins on International Men’s Day, and plan to release the footage in December.
Their fundraising target has already surpassed its goal, with support so far being “brilliant”.
Donations can be made by searching for “12 hour walk for Men’s Matter and Street Friends” at gofundme.com.
If you need mental health support, the Samaritans can be reached on 116 123 and Men Matter on 0141 944 7900.