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Martin holding up drink mats
Martin Williamson says “there is not a lot of support out there for young men”

A former football coach has created drink mats with supportive mental health messages.

Martin Williamson, who managed AEK BOCO Club in Hanham, Bristol, wants to raise awareness about mental health.

He created the drink mats in memory of Sean Finnegan, who played for the team as a child, after he killed himself in August at the age of 28.

Mr Williamson said it made him “recognise there is not a lot of support out there for young men”.

He has sold 7,000 mats to local sports clubs and says he will be donating all money made to a mental health charity.

Each mat has written messages, including: “Talk to a friend as every friend will want to help you, don’t suffer in silence.”

Sean at his dad's 50th birthday
Sean Finnegan was a footballer at Hanham Athletic Football Club

Jean Barrett, Mr Finnegan’s mother, has been moved by the efforts made by Mr Williamson.

She said: “His initiative has been great comfort to us despite losing our son, knowing Martin’s work could save other young men from taking their life.”

Family photo
This family photo was taken four weeks before Mr Finnegan (second from right) killed himself

Mr Williamson, from Bristol, who coached for 13 years and now pursues a career in printing, said: “I think for someone who might be struggling and having a drink in the football club with the lads may pick up their drink, look down at the mat and be encouraged to talk to someone.

“No-one knows what the other person is going through but encouraging conversation is very important.”

Drink mats
Friends Must Talk mats will be used in local sports and youth clubs

Source: BBC News

10 January 2020

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