Tong Garden Centre supports mental health charity

A Batley based charity that offers free training sessions to help promote physical and mental wellbeing will benefit from the generosity of a Bradford garden centre’s customers and staff this year.

Staff at Tong Garden Centre have announced that ‘Luke’s Lads’ and sister charity, ‘Butterflies’ will be their Charity of the Year for 2021, following a unanimous staff vote.

Through a series of fundraising events and collection boxes at the tills, the team at Tong hopes to raise £10K for the charity that provides free circuit and support sessions to encourage young people and adults to talk about their feelings.

Luke’s Lads was established in 2018 after local man Luke Naylor committed suicide following a battle with mental health and depression. It was set up by his best friend, Elliot Gorman, and his mother, Rachel Walmsley, with the support of Luke’s family: “Our aim for this group is to give people a safe place to express their feelings, get active and help promote physical and mental wellbeing.

“For someone like myself, who has experienced mental health issues, this is something I am committed to and passionate about. I hope that by sharing my experience, it will give at least one person the confidence, with support, to confront how they are feeling, not bottle things up and know that it’s OK not to be OK.”

The Charity of the Year fundraising is managed by a committee led by the People and Culture team at the Tong Lane site. Junior People and Culture business partner, Becki Smith said: “Male suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, with many men suffering in silence when they experience feelings of sadness, loneliness or anxiety.

Luke’s Lads and Butterflies are brilliant groups for young people and adults to help to restore their confidence and their ability to be part of a social group. The sessions incorporate exercise and the chance to talk about sensitive subjects. The exercise helps them to feel good about themselves whilst the confidential chats enable people to open up. We really want to raise awareness of this charity as well as important funds to ensure they can help local people.”

Since Tong Garden Centre was acquired by new owners in 2015, the team and supporters have raised more than £40K. Previous beneficiaries of Tong’s Charity of the Year initiative include Martin House Hospice, The Cellar Trust, Candlelighters and National Literacy Trust. In addition, the team has supported hundreds of smaller charities in the local community.

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