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Your spotlight on local services

Healthwatch Darlington volunteer takes on sky diving challenge for men's mental health charity


Healthwatch Darlington caught up with our very own volunteer Jamie Odgers on his forthcoming sky diving challenge for a men's mental charity called ManHealth.

Jamie joined us for a chat with one of the gentlemen from ManHealth called David Hopkins.

Jamie what inspired you to plan a charity sky dive for ManHealth?

"I noticed the opportunity through social media to take part in a skydive for ManHealth and to be honest a skydive is something I’ve always wanted to do, but never dared to do so I thought, why not now? It’s taking me out of my comfort zone and presents me with a challenge that myself as a disabled person never thought would be possible to accomplish, and now it is!"

Why did you pick ManHealth to support?

"Having suffered with mental health issues over the last few years, I fully understand how difficult it can be as a man to open up about feelings.  All my life growing up with a very outgoing personality I never thought I would be someone ever hit by depression, but after a serious chest injury for the second time In 2014 the realisation of depression and desperately needing someone to talk to hit me like a bolt out of the blue.  ManHealth do fantastic work in the North East to help break the stigma of men’s mental health, giving them the platform through regular meetings across the region to talk about their struggles with each other.  To me, something like this is so important to give men of all ages the confidence to not feel afraid to open up and to say ‘It’s ok not to be ok’.  If money raised through my skydive can help ManHealth to allow them to create more opportunities for men to speak out, then I’ve done something extremely worthwhile."

Has volunteering helped you in your decision to take part in a charitable fundraising challenge?

"Absolutely! Volunteering with Healthwatch has allowed me the opportunity to gain a lot of knowledge and experience around community involvement and it’s given me the encouragement and determination to give back to the community.  With a topic such as mental health being close to my heart, volunteering has opened my eyes to the importance of it to people across Darlington and the North East region as a whole.  It is a serious issue for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds that must be tackled."

What would you say to people who are thinking of doing something similar?

"Do it! If you don’t take these opportunities when they present themselves, you might never know what it was like.  It could be the best thing you’ll ever do, and all for a fantastic cause! No matter who you are, or what your story is there’s a challenge out there you can do and raise amazing amounts of money for great causes in the process."

David can you tell us what it means to ManHealth to have support from people like Jamie?

"Yes, it goes over and beyond our wildest expectations. We are overwhelmed with how ManHealth is being received. Any money that is being raised by volunteers like Jamie goes back into the community to fund our services. The peer support groups offer men with mental health the help they need and in doing so we can also provide them with information on diets, excersise and wellbeing. Some of the men who come to our groups have now formed friendships and have organised activities outside of the groups such as going for a meal. If anyone is unsure about joining a group, we also have our 'Men in need' trained peer mentor volunteers. They can meet in your own home or in public to provide you with the support you need in making your decision to come to our groups. We currently receive referrals from the 700 Club which is fantastic."

Healthwatch Darlington appreciates all of our volunteers and it never seizes to amaze us at the lengths they will go to to help people within the community. Jamie is shining example of this and we are very proud. If you would like to help Jamie to reach is £1000 target you can do so by visiting his Just Giving page - https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jamie-skydive




What is Healthwatch Darlington?

Healthwatch Darlington is the independent champion for people using local health and social care services in the Darlington borough. We listen to what people like about services and what could be improved. We share their views with those with the power to make change happen. People can also speak to us to find information about health and social care services available locally. 

Our sole purpose is to help make care better for people.

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