Readers’ Letters: ‘It suddenly clicks – you are not alone’, says Andy’s Man Club member
Last updated Feb 9, 2024

Readers’ Letters is a weekly column giving you the chance to have your say on issues affecting the Harrogate district. It is an opinion column and does not reflect the views of the Stray Ferret. Send your views to [email protected].

This letter is in response to an article published this week about the new Harrogate branch of Andy’s Man Club

I’m aware that you guys were present just prior to Monday’s meeting and the coverage is much appreciated. It neatly outlined exactly what happens every week — nothing dramatic or exciting, but simply inviting men to talk. Although I do wish it were that simple!

Acrimonious divorces, unemployment issues, financial woes, suicidal ideation, the challenges of living with autism, substance misuse, the trauma of abuse: young men trying to find their way in the world, the middle-aged having a bit of a crisis and the elderly perhaps bereaved and lost. It really is there for everyone, from every walk of life. Some are in sheltered accommodation and on benefits; plenty, like me, are in full time employment and have all the trappings of a comfortable life.

No one is immune from mental health issues.

It’s not always easy to hear some of the stories, but it is a genuinely safe and respectful place to talk, free of pressure or judgement. I’ve seen grown men in tears simply because they are astonished at the number of others in the room, and it suddenly clicks – they are not alone. And there are some who are presently doing quite well and attend purely to remind the rest of us that it can get better. I hope to be amongst them some day.

In some respects, there is nothing special or magical about it. But it’s a sad indictment on society that men have been ‘trained’ to withhold emotions instead of sharing. Some of them have got the knack of it, others literally crumble and pass on the baton because they have never before been invited to talk about what the hell is going on in their heads.

I’ve dealt with chronic depression since my early teens and I’m finally tired of putting on a mask every day and lying to the world. If people read anything published, put 2 + 2 together and form a negative opinion, they’re simply not worth knowing.

I would also like to give credit to the community mental health team, the crisis team and Horizons. I’ve engaged with all of them recently and have nothing but praise.

Mark Fuller, Harrogate

Restricted access to Crimple Valley ‘mean-spirited and unnecessary’

Last summer, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society fenced off a huge area of the Crimple Beck valley, previously hugely popular with families and walkers.

The wide tarmac paths which go up and down the hill provided excellent access for buggies, children, elderly people and anyone else wanting to enjoy access year round. We used to regularly walk there with my friend who has a child in a wheelchair. The straggly grassy path we are now restricted to is overgrown, uneven, and too muddy for families to enjoy even in August. In a town as built up and busy as Harrogate, access to green spaces is massively important for people’s mental and physical health, and this restriction is mean-spirited and unnecessary.I have contacted the Yorkshire Agricultural Society about their decision, and they claim this is so the land can be used for sheep. This is inadequate reasoning, it’s a huge area they’ve fenced off, and the sheep are only there for part of the year.

Plus, public footpaths frequently go through fields of sheep, so they could still allow access and just ask dog owners to put dogs on leads. They haven’t given us a chance to show this could work. They have also fenced off many of the access routes to Hookstone Woods, with no apparent reason as they don’t keep sheep there.Finally, there were three large sculptures in the fenced off area – a red kite, an owl, and a lovely bench for the public to enjoy. These are now nowhere to be seen and the YAS has not responded to my requests to know where the sculptures can now be enjoyed.

Kate Morton, Harrogate

‘No improvement’ to state of drains around Weeton and Huby

This letter is in response to a story published last week about flooded drains and gullies in Harrogate.

I noticed that one of your colleagues had an article last week about Harrogate area flooding due to poor drain maintenance among other issues.At the risk of becoming boring about the issue round Weeton and Huby, there has been no improvement since you last highlighted the issues round here. Crag Lane and Strait Lane in Huby as well as Woodgate Lane in Weeton turn into small streams or worse, rivers when rain arrives.Drains are clearly blocked by silt and leaves plus other debris as per the attached photo of a drain on Crag Lane. There is no chance at all that this drain could ever function correctly unless properly cleaned and maintained.

John Chadwick, Huby

Blue badges not recognised by parking system at Swinsty reservoir

I’m a disabled resident and frequently like to go to Swinsty to sit. It’s my solace and I go a lot.

I wanted to let you know, so other disabled people are aware, that you have to register your permit with your own vehicle registration number.

I asked what would happen if, for instance, you were taken by your carers or family members due to mobility issue and I have just been told by the people organising this charade that every time you go, you have to go online and re-register your car that you intend to go in each and every time. This is because they are not giving physical permits.

I thought you should know in case any anyone else gets caught out on this.

Having lived in Harrogate most of my life, it is becoming too hard for disabled people like me to enjoy our surroundings, which for some of us, is the only thing we have.

Editor’s note: The Stray Ferret contacted Yorkshire Water about Lindsay’s concerns. A spokesperson responded:

“The ANPR system at reservoirs recognises number plates not Blue Badges. If disabled people visit in multiple vehicles, they will need to register each one”.

Lindsay Frazer, Harrogate

Do you have an opinion on the Harrogate district? Email us at [email protected]. Please include your name and approximate location details. Limit your letters to 350 words. We reserve the right to edit letters.

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