It seems like an absolute age since the last event, but #WALKnTALK are finally on the move again and are inviting people to join them for a twelve mile walk from the Emirates to Selhurst Park.
This event was going to be prior to the fixture between Palace and Arsenal on the day but the game has now been moved to midweek to allow fans to attend.
Despite the game being moved, the organisers feel the message and reason for doing the walk is so strong and important that we are still going to make it happen between the two clubs.
The walk is open to anybody of any age, gender or ability and we are continuously driven to raising awareness of mental health and suicide prevention. The walks are not exclusive in any way but we are trying to make a difference predominantly for males who tragically make up 75% of suicides in the UK. It is also very important to recognise that these male suicides and male mental health issues also directly impact on many women too so, this is why our events have always been fully inclusive to all.
In 2019 suicides in England and Wales registered around the 5,691 mark with 4,303 of those being in men and boys. There are worrying trends in that this overall number is on the rise and that the group of both male and female of up to 25 years of age is also seeing a general increase. Given the difficulties the nation has had to face over the last year, this has without doubt put a strain on not only our mental health charities and Crisis teams, but also the impact it has had on the economy, businesses, employment, family, our freedoms and generally not being able to do the things that we love to do which are all huge contributing factors to good mental health.Now more than ever it is important that we try and look after our mental health, it is important that we stick together, try and look out for one another, offer support where possible and talk and find help if and when needed.
The walks themselves are designed to also try and break the stigma around mental health, to actually demonstrate men talking, to show that it is okay to talk and to encourage men and women to seek help when they are finding life tough.
There is still a stigma around men seeking help when they are struggling to cope and a survey by Samaritans found that two in five (41%) men in England, Scotland and Wales aged 20-59 do not seek support when they need to, because they prefer to solve their own problems.
The survey also showed that men often don’t want to feel like a burden and don’t feel their problems will be understood. This can lead to very dangerous circumstances of feeling isolated, overwhelmed, that you are unable to cope and in turn lead to a huge deterioration in mental health generally and often devastating circumstances.
Former TEB contributor Paul Price (@hc15ontour on Twitter), who has had his own mental health problems, has been organising these WALKnTALK events to encourage fans to talk about how they are feeling, with football being the perfect fit to reach the perfect target audience of supporters that are mainly men in the most at-risk age groups.
Football itself has at times bought mental illness and suicide into the fore with some high-profile cases but these walks are aimed at the actual fans because we also matter, we also need to feel valued and to feel that we continue to have an important purpose.
Football is the perfect ice-breaker for talking to other men and football itself can be an amazing vehicle in helping these subjects reach a huge amount of people.
“We know that men in particular can sometimes find it really hard to admit they are having trouble coping and can be reluctant to seek help, and as football fans we want to say that it is ok to talk about your problems.”
If you are unable to speak to a friend or family member then please find the courage and get in touch with Samaritans and talk to a volunteer. They are there to take calls 24/7 free on 116 123.”
Former Palace player and professional boxer, Leon McKenzie, who supports the Real People, Real Stories campaign attended the walk up to Arsenal last season said:
“I know how tough it gets when you’re in that dark place. I’ve been there, not wanting to exist anymore. By sharing my story and supporting the (Samaritans) campaign, I hope other men understand that you can climb back up with some help. It’s so important to seek help early on and Samaritans are here to listen.”
Although a survey by Samaritans also found that 78% of men say it’s okay to admit you’re not feeling okay, many still avoid speaking out when they’re finding life tough. A quarter of men (25%) felt their problems weren’t important enough to warrant calling a helpline.
Almost 3 in 10 men (29%) said loneliness and isolation had made them feel low in the past. Football for many can be that release, that break from loneliness and a great opportunity to mix with others, to socialise and to feel part of something. This cannot be under-estimated and is something that many people will have greatly missed in the past year.
With all of the above in mind, it is important to mention this walk is being undertaken for the usual reasons already stated but also in memory of friend, top bloke and Palace Fan Colin Doughty who sadly took his own life last year. Colin was a lovely guy that was always a recognisable face at both home and away games. He was always friendly, carrying a smile and pleased to see you. Many will miss seeing him at Palace games in the future. He has been and will often be in the mind of those at WALKnTALK and thoughts will again go out to his friends and family for such a tragic loss.
Those wanting to participate in the walk are asked to gather any time from 8:45am onwards on the 15th May outside the club shop entrance at the Emirates. This is a relatively large area and right under the main part of the stadium. Please arrive before 9:15 if possible, to ensure that you have enough time to congregate, meet others and listen to any briefing information prior to setting off.
The WALKnTALK will start at 9.30am SHARP on Saturday 15th May. As mentioned, everyone is welcome to do all or part of the walk and a schedule has been provided below to show timings of the start, the expected stop times and also the estimated finish time at Selhurst Park. The stops are provided because they are near transport hubs and pubs so people can join and leave as required.
Opposition football fans will again make the journey between the two clubs however, this will be the first time we have walked in this direction, from the Emirates. The previous two walks between the clubs have attracted around 350 fans for the journey. The walks have been hugely successful in bringing the subject into the public arena and have also resulted in fans taking part in similar walks in the United States and Scotland.
The walks are fully inclusive, friendly, non-judgemental and most of all very important in bringing these subjects forwards and normalising them as much as possible which is key in driving change.
If you would like to join the walk then you will be welcomed with open arms. It is just a case of turning up or meeting at one of the timed intervals that are provided in the table below. The organisers of WALKnTALK look forward to seeing you there.
Participants are asked to wear their club colours with pride and to bring any banners, wear comfortable walking shoes and bring some sort of waterproof clothing in case of adverse weather.
Participants are also asked to bring food and drink for the walk to stay fed and hydrated. Depending on the ruling at the time, walkers may need we may need to walk in small groups but this will be organised prior to the event and then discussed at the Emirates prior to setting off.
Route And Schedule
|Start / Departure Time||Stage Start Location||Expected Arrival Time||Stage End Location||Distance||Estimated time of travel between stops|
|08:45||Meet from this time|
|09:30||Emirates Stadium – In front of Club Shop||10:45||St. Paul’s Cathedral Steps||3.1 miles||1hr 2 mins|
|11:00||St. Paul’s Cathedral||11:20||Prince William Henry – Blackfriars Road||0.9 miles||18 mins|
|11:00||Prince William Henry – Blackfriars Road||12:30
|Half Moon – Herne Hill||4 miles||1 hr 23 mins|
|12:45||Half Moon – Herne Hill||14:15||Selhurst Park||4.4 miles||1 hr 31 mins|
Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number will not show up on your phone bill. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.
Samaritans is a charity and it is the kind donations of the public and more than 20,000 volunteers that means that they are always there for anyone struggling to cope.