A FOOTBALL coach will be launching a “walking men’s club” to “provide a safe space” for men to share their struggles.

Steve Crane, 48, is planning to organise group walks in honour of “men’s health week” in the hope of helping men overcome their struggles. 

After facing his own challenges with mental health, Steve said it is his work at the school and club that drove him to the decision of starting the walking group. 

Steve currently works as a learning support assistant at Cedar Hall School in Benfleet while also serving as a coach at Rayleigh Rebels, a football club for children with special needs and those who have been bullied.

“I used to be homeless following a separation which caused my mental health to suffer for a long time,” he said.

“I also lost two friends to suicide in previous years which drove me to a low point of contemplating suicide as well.

Steve hopes the group will allow men to open up and defy stereotypes.Steve hopes the group will allow men to open up and defy stereotypes. (Image: Steve Crane)

“Whenever I had these dark thoughts, I used to just go out and walk. I would keep walking for miles which helped me to clear my mind and keep going.

“I try and encourage my kids to express their emotions and I always tell them that it takes a strong person to talk about their problems.”

Steve also hopes the club will inspire men to tackle stigmas around mental health without passing it on to the next generation.

“There’s so many stigmas which give men the message that they are not allowed to show emotion or to cry.

“We have to change what being ‘man enough’ means and that starts by being open with each other and making sure we encourage our kids to do the same.

“There’s not too much support out there for men so I hope this walk with a couple of blokes hanging out can make a difference.

“We all have different experiences to bring to the table and if we can help each other through that, it can only be a good thing.”

The first walk is set to take place at the Great Wakering recreation ground on Monday June 10 at 7pm.