By Andy Hirst

A mental health charity says it has seen a big rise in the number of people being referred to it for help even though it gets no funding from health services.

Platform 1 has grown into a frontline mental health service over the last five years but so many people with mental health problems are being referred to it there is now a 14-week wait for its services.

It still reacts immediately to emergency calls for help.

People who simply can’t access NHS mental health services as the waiting list is too long are being referred to Platform 1 which is a recognised clinical service with qualified staff.

Project leader Gez Walsh said: “Covid changed the project beyond all recognition. We went into the pandemic as a men’s support group but exited it as a mental health service offering qualified help and support to the whole community. We often deal with the difficult issues such as psychosis, suicides and suicide attempts.

“What initially started as a men’s support group has now grown into a full mental health service. We now work with the whole community including women, young people and children.

“We all know the funding crisis within the NHS and that mental health services has always been a poor relation when it comes to funding. The people working in the services work long, hard hours but still they can’t meet the demand so the reliance on the third sector has become more important.”

Platform 1 received vital funds from Huddersfield’s Town’s Pedal for Pounds bike ride. Gez Walsh (centre) and crisis lead Bridget Fahy received a cheque from Town owner Dean Hoyle and wife Janet (right) and Andy Booth.

Gez added: “The cost-of-living crisis is certainly starting to take its toll. We see people petrified of putting the heating on, especially the older generation. Some are using no heating or lighting, wrapping up to stay as warm as they can indoors and then going to bed around 5pm. We’re living in a really weird world at the moment.”

The charity expects to be dealing with emergencies over Christmas.

Gez explained: “It’s not usually the people we see regularly as their families tend to make an effort to see them over Christmas. We see them more in January.

“What we see at Christmas is people who get in contact because they have absolutely no-one at all. They either have no family or there has been a family breakdown and they are alone and on their own while all around them the season is all about families being together.

“This can lead to acute anxiety and we usually speak to them over the phone, just to chat to them, but if we have real concerns about them, someone from Platform 1 will go to visit them.”

These visits can sometimes reveal dreadful stories. They went to see one man and it turned out he was suffering from diabetes and when he took his socks off his feet were in such a terrible state bones were sticking out. They got him urgent medical attention.

Gez Walsh (left) and co-founder Bob Morse spoke about the funding pressures at a meeting of Kirklees Council in 2021.

Gez also revealed that people are being made homeless because some landlords are having to sell their properties to make ends meet and with a shortage of properties for rent they have nowhere to go.

Platform 1 now has support groups for people with cancer such as ovarian, breast and bowel cancer along with a prostate cancer support group supported by the surgical staff at local hospitals. There are also workshops and support for domestic violence and sexual abuse for both men and women.

The charity is based in offices in St George’s Square and also right next to the station in train carriages and old railway sheds. These are leaking and the plan is to get them replaced with more permanent buildings.

Here are the numbers for Platform 1

For counselling and enquiries: 01484 535960

Out of hours crisis support: 07927 977390

For further information or to donate go to

* Copyright for this story belongs to freelance journalist ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire agency AH! PR ( specialising in stories for the media, press releases, blogging, copywriting, scriptwriting and applying for awards.