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Posted on 25 June 2024

Frankie’s Men’s Group: a safe space for men to talk

When it comes to opening up about mental health, men often struggle; with societal expectations, fear of judgement and race among the top factors stopping them sharing their experiences with others.

To create a safe space for the men of Blackpool, Frankie’s Men Group get together every Thursday to talk about things important to them – including mental health and substance use – in a non-judgmental environment.

The weekly support group is run by ‘friends and co-workers’ Martin Bleasdale and James Wood, who both work at Horizon in Blackpool.

Talking about the importance of conversation, James said: “As a team, we understand and appreciate the need to openly discuss mental health and appreciate the challenges that some people might be going through”.

How Frankie’s Men’s Group started

Talking about how Frankie’s Men’s Group got started, Martin said: “I knew from personal experience that when men struggle with mental health, they don’t always want to talk about it. I said from the outset, as a previous client of Horizon, I would like to facilitate a men’s group”.

Together, the pair set up everything needed to get the group started, ranging from the structure of the meetings to the questions needed to keep the conversations flowing.

The first Frankie’s meeting was held in January this year, and at least one meeting has been held every week since. When the group first got together, there were only seven people in it. A week later, there were twelve, and it has grown slowly but steadily each week since.

One client said: “It’s very good, well organised and nice to talk to other people in similar situations to myself.”

The men’s group has now become so popular, they have moved to a larger meeting room to accommodate everyone wanting to be involved. Right now, there are an average of 21 men in every meeting, with 52 members in total.

Martin also runs a Monday Morning Brew session, which gives the guys a good start to the week in a safe environment. As well as a brew, they enjoy games ranging from indoor golf to pool and even old school dominoes!

Why are men’s groups important?

Although women are more likely to be diagnosed with common mental disorders than men, this doesn’t mean that men don’t struggle. In fact, suicide is one of the biggest killers of men in the UK, making these safe spaces essential.

The Priory recently commissioned a survey of 1,000 men in the UK about mental health struggles. 40% of the men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health. 29% of those say they are “too embarrassed” to speak about it, while 20% say there is a “negative stigma” on the issue.

Martin added: “Our meetings are a safe place to talk about the real issues of life: from family matters, work and day to day life to trauma and mental health issues.

“Amongst all this somewhat serious conversation, the group is an uplifting experience and encourages honest conversation and laughter!”

Creating an alcohol-free space to enjoy the Euros

The Euros are a big event in the calendar for all football fans. However, for those who don’t drink, it can be hard to find an alcohol-free environment to enjoy the game. That’s why Frankie’s Men’s Group offered everyone a safe space to watch England take on Denmark back in June.

One member of the group said: “It was great to be able to go out and watch a major sporting event in a safe environment, rather than just staying in at watching at home. Thank you for the generosity of food and soft drinks and water. I enjoyed it.”

Although the score left many underwhelmed, everyone enjoyed getting together for some food and conversation.

Another member added: “Only down-side was the England result, but I guess you can’t have everything! Thanks to all for organising the event.”

Frankie’s Men’s Group meet every Thursday at 5.30pm. Join us The Freedom Building, 258 Church Street, Blackpool. For more information, please contact Martin Bleasdale ( or James Wood (

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