Pull on walking shoes to help Wigan mental health support group

Kristen Varty, from Vartys Funeral Directors, with Jennifer Oldfield, director of RU OK Mate?
Kristen Varty, from Vartys Funeral Directors, with Jennifer Oldfield, director of RU OK Mate?

A Wigan funeral director will hold a community fund-raiser to raise money and awareness for a local mental health support group set up by a grieving dad.

Kristen Varty, of Varty’s Funeral Directors in Ince, will lead a sponsored walk from the Manchester Road parlour up to Haigh Hall and back to support Wigan-based R U OK Mate?

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The group was launched by Mike Dickinson, from Pemberton, in November 2017 as he struggled to come to terms with the death of his eight-week-old daughter Esme.

Mike, 34, set up a Facebook page after feeling like he had nowhere to turn to speak about his feelings.

Eighteen months later, the group now has more than 2,500 members. Mike works with a team of four people who help to respond to the messages, alongside his full-time job as a night supervisor for a haulage company.

Kristen, a mum-of-two from Whelley, said: “We have seen them a lot on Facebook and seen the work they are doing in the community, so we got in touch with them to see if we could help.

“The group gives so much support for people who are suffering with mental health issues.

“Given the job we are in and the suffering we see all the time, we know this kind of help is well-needed within the community.”

The event will start at Varty’s at 11am on August 18.

Children and dogs are welcome on the roughly seven-mile round trip and participants will have buckets to collect more donations en route.

There will also be personalised wristbands available with “Varty’s funeral directors supporting R U OK Mate” written on them.

“Join us to support an amazing local charity and the work they do for mental health awareness,” added Kristen.

“Everyone is welcome to make the day as fun as possible.”

For anyone wishing to take part, Varty’s can be contacted for sponsor forms by calling 01942 244712.

To contact the support group, visit www.facebook.com/RUOKPAL/