This week Ben and Frazer are joined by John Hewitt, one of the founders of mental health charity Kelly’s Heroes. John lost his daughter Kelly when she took her own life at the end of 2018 and, along with his family, set up the charity in her memory. Initially fundraising money for other charities, they now provide frontline services and facilitated 2600 free counselling sessions in 2022, as well as a chatline that operates for three hours a night 365 days a year.
Ben describes how he first became associated with the charity when a schoolmate of his had taken their own life at the start of lockdown and Ben began a mental health campaign called Wellingborough Cares which then brought him into contact with John.
Mental Health In The UK
Discussing the broader issue of mental health in the UK, John says that both the NHS and charities are very oversubscribed, with extremely long waiting lists for both. We Mind and Kelly Matters is smaller and younger, so it is currently able to respond quicker but it is inevitable that its growth will likely lead to it becoming oversubscribed.
Frazer asks about their fundraising efforts and some of the incredible cycling feats John has achieved personally to raise money for the charity, including Land’s End to John O Groats, a ten day pan-European trip from Spain to Germany, followed only a few days later by a truly incredible ride across America from New York to San Francisco, raising over £300,000 over the three rides.
The podcast ends with a cautionary tale about Kelly’s employer, who ignored several clear signs that she was distressed. Employers need to stay vigilant about their staff’s wellbeing, and the charity offer workplace courses to raise awareness of mental health and mental health first aid.