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Martyn’s Monday Club officially opens the door to its own premises next week.
What started out as a vision 18 months ago when the club began meeting at Hope Kitchen in Oban, has become reality sooner than expected thanks to the generosity and support of the town and funders.
Kickstarting the use of the new space in Breadalbane Street will be the addition of a new youth peer-to-peer group for 16- to 21-year-olds on a Wednesday from 6pm to 8pm.
And fundraising is ongoing to recruit two members of staff to co-ordinate the groups’ meetings and activities.
Preventing suicides is its mission, encouraging people to talk about mental health and raising awareness of the issues that can lead to people taking their own lives.
Funders behind the opening of the new premises are The Corra Foundation, Oban Community Fund, Tesco and The National Lottery. With Covid impacting on people’s mental health, the doors are opening just at the right time, says its trustees.
Plans in the pipeline include wellness sessions, from yoga to music therapy, start-up groups for mums and for dads, for over 50s, drop-in days and opening up the space for use by the Community Mental Health Team and other organisations.
The intention is to let members drive how the premises will be used in the future.
A long list of businesses, workers and individuals deserve credit for providing endless hours of skills and supplies, ensuring the ground-floor space in a former hairdressers’ salon is ready for August 10.
‘Their kindness will never be forgotten,’ said Des MacMillan of Martyn’s Monday Club (MCC), which started out as a self-funded community group before becoming a charity in April.
MCC was set up in memory of Martyn Cruickshanks, a 37-year-old local man who took his own life in May 2018. His mother Fiona and father Robert have been supporters of the peer-to-peer group since it began.
In its first year it had more than 140 people seek its help and has 11 facilitators giving their own time to back and build up the club.
The group is two years ahead of where it had hoped to be now, with more than 200 people, from doctors to shop workers and young people, trained through Choose Life to help those in need. Scottish Sea Farms provided funding for the training.
Robert Cruickshanks said: ‘We are proud of where we are in our second year. It was our vision and our dream from day one but we didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. We are here for people who need us now and will need us in the future. It’s one step to cross the door.’
MCC got the keys for the premises just weeks before lockdown, so refurbishment work was put on hold until restrictions started to ease.
Robert took on the role of project manager, said Des, adding: ‘When lockdown started to ease we were off and running, with the amazing support of local businesses and trades we moved fast, almost like our very own DIY SOS.’
Des and his wife Tina then moved in to decorate the place and set-up furniture. There is a main chill room, toilets, including a disabled facility, a kitchen, a storeroom and a wellness room for one-to-one sessions. On Saturday, August 8, people wanting a peek inside can pop in for a whistle-stop tour from 10am to 4pm, with a grander opening celebration to be planned for when Covid guidelines finally allow.