Talk N Train: Free mental health support in Rotherham

By Allana Kennedy

Over the past few years mental health and people’s wellbeing has been more openly spoken about.

Since a light has been shone onto the matter, more amazing people like the volunteers at Talk N Train here in Rotherham have set up vital services for those struggling in silence.

Talk N Train is a free mental health group based at Millennium Boxing Gym. The peer support group provides a safe space for anyone from the local community to receive support for their wellbeing through talking and training.

Two men stood talking in the gym at Rotherham's Talk N Train mental health wellbeing group.

Jamie Kennedy, who is the owner and head coach of the gym, set up Talk N Train with a friend and ex police officer, John Shaw in 2020. They’d both lost a friend to suicide and knew that they had to do something to help those carrying the heavy and isolating burden of mental health problems.

Through their own lifestyles and careers, they knew the positive impact exercise can have on your mental wellbeing. They also recognised there was a serious need for a diverse space within the community where people could not only receive support through talking but also have a welcoming and friendly space to train.

At Talk N Train, you can exercise alongside others who may be in the same boat as you supported by volunteers who are there to create a fun and uplifting atmosphere.

Volunteer Simon Davies has become a very well-known figure within the gym and is the type of person who will boost the morale within a training session.

Not everyone wants to sit around talking and it can be a deterrent to those seeking help. Talk N Train offers you flexibility to spend an hour using their facilities to meet your emotional and physical needs.

All session ends with an opportunity to sit down and chat with a key focus on positivity. It can be easy to forget the good aspects of life when you are in such a low and depressing place within your mind.

None of the volunteers claim to be mental health specialists but provide that listening ear to those who feel unheard. They are trained to notice the signs of crisis and can guide people to seek the right support.

Boxing is the main form of training due to Jamie’s background. He’s been boxing from a very young age inspired by his dad and Grandad who were both professional boxers. He opened Millennium Boxing in 2000 and since then has become a highly successful and respected coach working with many champion boxers.

As well as boxing they also run bootcamp sessions. All the volunteers have received coaching qualifications and additional training from Jamie. One of the main coaches originally came to the group in crisis and was inspired to do his Hatton coaching qualification after experiencing the group’s positive impact.

Mental health can affect everyone, and the group attracts people from all walks of life ranging from mid-teens to pensioners. There’s always someone around to listen to you and show you a bit of care and compassion.

 “Jamie is that kind of guy that he’ll look after people and welcome them in with open arms, he is known and respected and has been in the industry a long time,” said chairperson Luke Killeen.

Luke is a sports massage therapist at the gym and saw the pure impact the support group was having on those who attended. Knowing how passionate the volunteers were, he joined the committee to help them plan a sustainable future using skills from his HR background.

“The group had grown substantially already but needed funding to sustain it. I wanted to help it carry on and not fizzle out, so we are looking at things objectively about how to keep improving what we offer,” he said.

The future for Talk N Train is going to be a bright one. They want to be able to invite guest speakers to promote resilience. They would also like to ensure all members have received mental health first aid training. Other plans include new equipment, decorating the room where the sessions are held and starting a drop-in session solely for talking.

Sessions run three times a week and are completely free. However, many people have since become members of the gym after having the confidence to join after breaking the ice.

For anyone who is apprehensive about joining Talk N Train there will always be someone to meet for a brew and a look round at the gym to ease nerves. The gym is open all the time so if you are in crisis outside of a session there will always be a familiar face to go and speak to.

When and where?

Talk N Train sessions are on Wednesdays and Fridays from 6-7pm and Sundays from 10-11am. Millennium Boxing Gym, Masbrough Street, Rotherham S60 1EX.

Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for more information.