One of the founders of Huddersfield-based mental health charity Platform 1 is moving on – though he won’t be going far.
Bob Morse – known fondly as Mr Bob – leaves at the end of April though he will continue to be an ambassador for the charity he founded with Gez Walsh six years ago.
“Things change and change is very good,” said Bob. “Everybody should allow themselves to look at change.
“I want to step back a tad. I don’t want to be on the payroll and I have formally handed in my notice.
“The charity is evolving and I am always going to be the founder and I am very proud of what we have achieved.
“I will take a step back and become an ambassador and an advocate, do some public speaking – people say I like to talk! – and get in front of people and tell them my story.”
Bob is 72 but isn’t retiring. “I tried to retire once and got really bored,” he said. “I do like a challenge and I like to be absorbed.”
Bob’s role as project manager has meant he was increasingly found in the office dealing with paperwork and administration which wasn’t what he wants to be doing.
Platform 1 started out as a ‘men’s shed’ project run by Yorkshire Children’s Centre. As the project developed it became about so much more than a group to help retired men meet others and learn woodworking skills.
Bob and Gez eventually took Platform 1 – based at Huddersfield Railway Station – out on its own and they achieved charity status in April 2018.
What started out as a men’s mental health charity is now helping women and children too and there are outreach centres in Honley, Netherton, Meltham and Almondbury.
There is also a confidential, appointment-only counselling service with rooms in nearby Railway Street.
When the charity started out it was helping mainly single men with addiction, social issues or homelessness but the impact of the pandemic meant more people turned to Platform 1 for help.
Bob said everyone was different. People would come in with a “bag of issues.” Some men still come after six years, others get help for a couple of months and move on.
“We started out as two men in a shed and now the demand for our services has become a flood over the last few months and we are getting referrals from everywhere you can think of – doctors, hospitals, the police, probation, housing. You name it. Everybody is using us.
“The only problem is no-one is paying us any money. We are picking up the slack in the system. Platform 1 is doing it for nothing which is an issue.”
Dad-of-two Bob, who has had mental health issues in his own life, tells it like it is. He likes to talk and he likes to challenge people.
“People say I’m inspirational but I’ll leave them to say that,” he said.
At 72 Bob is less inclined to worry about what people think. He’ll talk to anyone. When Prime Minister Boris Johnson called in at Platform 1 last November Bob told how him the system needed to change.
“I don’t know whether he was listening,” said Bob. “Only time will tell.”
Platform 1, which has seven staff and 22 volunteers, is now about to evolve again. As it’s grown the services it provides have had to become more structured.
Its open door policy is about to be changed and people will no longer be allowed to “walk in” off the street and will need to make contact first either by phone or through the website. People without internet access can seek help from staff at Huddersfield Library.
Bob, whose background is in sales, investment, finance and education, is ready for his next challenge but that will be after a railway holiday to Italy with “long-suffering” (his words!) wife Mave.
“People are surprised I’m moving on because they have seen the energy that I have put into this but I’m getting on a bit! I have to look after me and I don’t want to burn out,” he said. “I have met friends for life that I wouldn’t otherwise have met.
“I feel hugely optimistic about the future for Platform 1 and there’s a huge amount of goodwill out there for this project.
“The charity will go on and thrive and hopefully I’ll be around for the next five or 10 years to help and support.”
Find out more about Platform 1 from its website https://platform-1.co.uk/
How you can help Platform 1.
Funding is always a problem, but people can easily make a donation of just £3. All you need to do is text UCARE 3 to 70085 to donate £3. The way it works is that the text costs £3 but you can donate more this way if you want.
The office number is 01484 421143.