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BLOG: “We wanted to create a space for whoever needed it”

Every Wednesday night, male mental health support group The Mulligan Club runs at Eckington Cricket Club in Derbyshire. Following the narrative surrounding this year’s International Men’s Day, co-founders Dave Bell and Nathan Musselwhite share their story.

Dave Bell, Co-Founder

Nathan and I always kept a really good connection. During the Covid-19 lockdown, we decided we needed to go for a walk. We took Nathan’s dog, headed to the Peak District, and the next minute we were having in-depth discussions about how we were both feeling. What should have been a one-hour walk turned into a six-hour hike. We went to the pub afterwards, sat down and realised how beneficial we had found walking and talking together.  We’d discovered the importance of sharing.

When we came out of lockdown, Nate did his mental health first aid course. And once a week, we continued to touch base with each other, catching up over a coffee or a walk. We made it a safe space for the two of us. Once that happened, we started to wonder if this would be good for other people, we surely weren’t alone in our feelings. We had a meeting, I brought a little black book, and we started scribbling. We started making slideshows, agreed a target start date (summer 2021) and committed to starting The Mulligan Club. Whether people came or not, Nate and I were going to be there enabling conversation.

We wanted to create a space for whoever needed it. The club is open to males of all ages and happens every Wednesday, all year round. Sometimes we’ve got presentations, sometimes we’ve got practical activities from Nate’s training, or sometimes it’s just a group of us sitting around a table drinking coffee. Importantly, it’s open to the whole community (you don’t have to be a member of the cricket club). We’ve had people coming from around the whole region, and the support has been phenomenal from both the club and the wider community.

For us, The Mulligan Club is about creating a community where you can share, appreciate, support, and celebrate each other. We’re not here to challenge other mental health groups, we just want to do more within our community because we know first-hand the impact it’s having.

The clue is in our name, The Mulligan Club. Like in a round of golf, you can have a free shot and have another go when things haven’t quite gone your way. You’re not alone. It’s fine. Let’s keep going… together!

Nathan Musselwhite, Co-Founder  

The Mulligan Club is all about providing a safe and supportive space for anyone who needs it. That’s all that matters. For some of the guys, it’s been a lifesaver. One of the lads came when he was in quite a difficult place, and it completely transformed his way of thinking. It’s somewhere people can go and feel safe, comfortable, and not judged for what they’re talking about. If anyone’s reading this and thinking about coming, our message is simple: it’s OK, and you’re not alone. It’s normal and natural to feel down. Come over and have a non-judgmental chat with us.

Charlie Storr, Derbyshire Cricket Foundation

It’s been fantastic to see The Mulligan Club develop and its recognition in the recent Grassroots Cricket Awards is testament the impact it’s had in the community, and beyond. It’s an outstanding example of something that’s providing an invaluable support service that is saving lives. We’ve heard exceptional feedback and praise for the work that Dave and Nate are doing, and we’re so proud to be able to support them both in growing this vital network that is driven by genuine need.

For more information on The Mulligan Club, please visit https://dcfcricket.com/2022/01/the-mulligan-club/.

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