Who is the Silent Man?
A man learns to speak
Recently, Hope Street welcomed The Silent Man, also known as Stephen Matthews, a 48 year old man from Liverpool who has endured a multitude of traumatic events over the years that have significantly affected his mental health, until eventually life taught him to suppress his feelings to the point of silence.
A silence that stood between him and a normal life, and a silence he is finally learning to break with the help of all those at Hope Street.
How is has happened?
A period of events
From an early age Stephen suffered from the slings and arrows of being seen but never heard. As the youngest of three children in a family where Dad went to work and ended his days in the pub, while Mum looked after the kids and managed the house, he simply never thought to question the status quo. His was a childhood where emotion was never discussed and feelings barely acknowledged.
Moreover, he was not encouraged to be vocal about everyday life events. so never established the necessary resilience that may have ultimately prootected him. So through trauma, bereavement, redundancies, financial issues and, the process of going through the judicial system to disprove his paternity of his daughter, his mental health began to suffer as he continued to suppress his emotions and failed to ask for help.
Why Hope Street?
A valuable support group
When asked this question, Stephen responded with typical candidness ‘I didn’t know it was here!’ Hope Street has been a relief to him as he has connected with a number of people who have/are suffering with their mental health. ‘I felt so at ease when I first arrived at Hope Street.
It was my partner, Alison, who discovered the group on Facebook and suggested that I come, and to be honest, it has helped tremendously’.
Hope Street is a social enterprise that is facilitated by Sheila and Dom, which runs as a support group to help people with their mental health issues. Currently, Hope Street runs across two sites and is open to anyone who has problems relating to their mental health.
A place of sanctuary, people who attend are welcomed into the group and there is no judgement from anyone, as they are all sufferers of some kind. They are here to help as much as they can, and they do.
How has it helped The Silent Man?
For people who attend, there are many offerings that can be accessed and include much needed support in areas such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) – for some, this is the ability to understand your own mind and make changes.
This has helped Stephen to change his thought process for the better, and although he is not through it all by any means, he is able to cope.
There is the support element too – people underestimate how much people require support. ‘For me, this is a massively important group in terms of help and support’, says Stephen.
‘The encouraging sign is that Sheila and Dom recognise the importance of the group and are in the process of securing much needed awareness for the organisation, something that Stephen is keen to see implemented.
‘Hope Street massively important to a lot of people already using the support group. It is also massively important to people who don’t even know it exists. This is why the group is promoted and is so important – so the organisation grows and awareness is raised that help is available’ says Stephen.
Stephen has recently delivered a talk to the Liverpool group of Hope Street, and will be doing the same in Ormskirk in the near future. But currently, his focus is on raising awareness about how prevalent men’s silence is in our society and how necessary it is for them to have a ‘safe-haven’ to be allowed to express their concerns and worries.
His own blog, The Silent Man focuses on his journey through his life so far, and examines the problems that are there for all to see. As a new venture, the site is steadily growing, and Stephen credits the therapeutic benefits of writing it, with yet more progress on the journey out of depression.
Working closely with Sheila and Dom, he is hoping to gain further experience to help others who have and are going through their own struggles. This will include him re-training himself to become a counsellor and playing a more active role within Hope Street.
You can visit Stephen’s blog below: