VOLUNTEERS behind a mental health group set up in memory of their friend have been nominated for a Proud of Barnsley Award.

Project 14 was established by Beth Deakin, of Bolton-upon-Dearne, and friends in

memory of Ashley Salkeld, known as Selly, who took his own life at 25 in October 2016.

Ashley was described as a ‘funny, happy-go-lucky’ person who was ‘well-liked by everyone around him’.

The group are aiming to do as much as possible to raise awareness of mental health and how it can affect people.

In Text Promo Image

Since Project 14 was set up, it has raised more than £5,000 and is continuing to fundraise.

The group holds regular walks across Barnsley and the Dearne Valley where people are encouraged to talk and open up about their feelings. There is also an annual rugby and football tournament.

Speaking about how Project 14 - named after the number Ashley wore when playing rugby - came about, Beth said: “I started looking into things then and what was available in Barnsley.

“It really resonated in my mind that we raised a lot of money through sport but we needed to redirect that money.

“When we first lost Ashley I never thought in a million years that something so positive could come out of something so horrible.

“People have been so supportive and I think that is something that has kept us going.

“In Barnsley when you do something like this, everyone gathers round to give support.”

The group has the slogan ‘Be Reyt’ which has been made into business cards and prints, which Beth said has helped to get people interested in Project 14.

She added: “We wanted a slogan that was something Barnsley people say, so we sat down and made a list of different sayings like ‘be reyt’, ‘chin up cocker’, ‘we will be reyt’ and a few others. Then we sort of settled on ‘be reyt’ really and I made it into graphics.

“It’s local and we all say it. I even remember Ashley saying it and it has had a lot of response and stimulates conversation.”

Earlier this year, the group held a four-hour-long Zumbathon at the end of Mental Health Awareness Week and raised nearly £1,000 through that and going around the community.

Now, Beth and the other members from Project 14 are distributing crisis cards around the borough.

The cards carry phone numbers for people who may be struggling with their mental health or know of someone who is to contact.

They are also fundraising for people to attend mental health awareness courses.

“Hopefully by the end of September, we’ll have given out 10,000 and we are holding a walking event at the end of September to distribute them,” added Beth.

“Our next project is to buy some talking benches to put about the town, plus continuing to fundraise to send people on mental health first aid courses.

“We want to do lots of little bits and bobs to get as many people aware as possible. If we can help one person then I will be happy.”

For more information, search Project 14 on Facebook. To donate to Project 14, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/project14.