‘Man cave’ tribute to lifelong Liverpool fan who died suddenly

A 'man cave' movement set up in the memory of a lifelong Liverpool FC fan who took his own life has gone on to save countless others from suicide.

Martin Gallier was just 55 went he died in February 2017 – and his tragic death prompted daughter Jessica to establish a charity in his name which has helped hundreds of people in times of crisis.

Jessica, 30, from Port Sunlight, said: "Every time we save a life or save someone from suicide, it helps me probably as much as it helps them because it takes a little bit of that pain away from losing my dad."

One of the initiatives launched by the Martin Gallier Project was the creation of a "man cave", where men are able to meet, chat and get help in a friendly setting.

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It has been a lifeline for many, and has recently received a much-needed cash injection in the form of a £31,449 boost from People’s Health Trust with money raised by the Health Lottery North West.

The money will help fund a two-year project, Martin’s Man Cave, based in New Ferry, Wirral.

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Lifelong Liverpool fan Martin, from the Cotswalds, was described by his family as "the life and soul of the party" with a "wicked sense of humour".

Jessica told the ECHO that her dad, who worked as a carpenter, was a big character who made people laugh.

But like so many people who are privately battling their own mental health issues, Martin was "suffering in silence".

Jessica Gallier opened up on the death of her dad Martin

She said: "He was someone that was the life and soul of the party.

"And you hear it quite a lot, the tears of a clown, but he was funny and really quite eccentric.

"From the outside you probably thought here he is, Martin Gallier – funny guy. But it was only really us as a family who knew that it was all a bit of a show really.

"Which I think is really common with male suicide and men in particular."

Jessica said Martin had tried to communicate his feelings to others, but she said the family had struggled to know how best to offer to support, or where to find it.

Jessica Gallier opened up on the death of her dad Martin

She said: "He was troubled, he was deeply troubled with his issues with alcohol. He was an alcoholic for most of his life and he suffered with his mental ill health on the back of that.

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"But it was always something that was spoken about within our family.

"That was something that was difficult for us to hear as children, but it was something we didn't know how to deal with. We hadn't been educated on it, which is where the idea of the project came from."

Setting up the first Suicide Prevention Centre in Wirral, the Martin Gallier Project was born. The charity works to reduce the stigma around suicide and offer support to people who need it.

Jessica Gallier opened up on the death of her dad Martin

Part of this includes the 'man cave', which is available for men over 16 to access when they need help.

Jessica said: "The man cave has been running for over a year now, but it had a cash injection in April. It's an extra layer of support and male peer support.

"It was set up by someone who was a volunteer for us, and is now a paid member of staff.

"He just wanted to set up something that was really informal and really chilled out. They meet once a week on a Monday evening, they play darts and on the football table – just normal stuff.

"There's no kind of sitting around in a circle, there's no pressure to talk about mental health. It doesn't look like a mental health group.

"It's just a social thing, and then conversations come really organically and naturally, so they end up talking about those things anyway.

"They end up there for each other. They'll be playing darts and they'll say 'What are you here for, lad?' and someone will say 'I'm here for X, Y and Z."

The Martin Gallier Project

This, Jessica said, was "massively helpful" for reducing social isolation and included groups going to do activities together.

She added: "The support goes well beyond just what they get on a Monday evening."

This lifesaving group has helped hundreds of individuals, especially during coronvairus.

Professionals, key workers and young mums have turned to the charity for help and people who "felt the weight of the world on them" because of the pandemic, Jessica said.

Jessica said: "A lot of people say to me 'it must have been hard to set up that charity in your dad's name and to relive it every day', but I don't really frame it like that. To me, it's massively been something that's helped me and has helped me to heal."

She added: "I can't change that horrible experience, I can't take it away from me and my family but I can potentially take it away from someone else and their family. I've got that opportunity so why wouldn't I do it.

"So every time we save a life or save someone from suicide, it helps me probably as much as it helps them because it takes a little bit of that pain away from losing my dad."

Helplines and support groups

The following are helplines and support networks for people to talk to, mostly listed on the NHS Choices website

  • Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you're feeling, or if you're worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org.
  • Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won't show up on your phone bill.
  • PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is an organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
  • Mind (0300 123 3393) is a charity providing advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
  • Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
  • Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.
  • Hub of Hope is the UK’s most comprehensive national mental health support database. Download the free app, visit hubofhope.co.uk or text HOPE to 85258 to find relevant services near you.
  • Young Persons Advisory Service – Providing mental health and emotional wellbeing services for Liverpool’s children, young people and families. tel: 0151 707 1025 email: support@ypas.org.uk
  • Paul's Place – providing free counselling and group sessions to anyone living in Merseyside who has lost a family member or friend to suicide. Tel: 0151 226 0696 or email: paulsplace@beaconcounsellingtrust.co.uk

Now funding from People’s Health Trust will help the charity to carry out vital work in the community.

Jessica said: "Funding from People’s Health Trust has helped develop and sustain Martin’s Man Cave, especially during the difficult times of Covid-19, when the project was needed the most.

"The Martin Gallier Project as a whole saw a 300% increase in participants since the beginning of Covid-19, and due to the funds we received, we were able to accommodate all of the participants.”.

Jessica said those who want to get involved, visit or learn more about the charity can visit their site online, or get in touch via email or phone.

The phone number is: 0151 644 0294

And the email address is: triage@gallierhouse.co.uk

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