A CHARITY set up to improve men’s mental health has received an £87,712 funding boost from the National Lottery.

Heart Wood was launched by Hexham psychotherapist Chip Ponsford in July, following the successful outcomes of pilot schemes completed by himself and fellow psychotherapist Rab Erskine, along with the Northumberland Domestic Abuse Service.

The charity works to improve the mental health of people, focusing on men, through woodland-based, person-centred counselling and therapy.

The charity has been awarded the grant from the National Lottery Community Fund, which Chip said would help the charity move forward.

“It helps us to consolidate what we’ve already done and build on that,” he said. “We had real success in 2019.

“There’s a mental health crisis going on, so this helps us reach people who don’t engage with traditional services.

“Suicide is the biggest killer of men.

“They don’t open up as easily as women, but they really respond to this sort of outdoor therapy.”

The money will be used to run two ecotherapy groups a week, as well as training more therapists who will then be able to offer similar sessions.

One is held in private woodland near Slaley for men aged over 25, while a second group for men aged between 18-25 is held in woodland near Ponteland.

Chip explained that the charity offered different therapy groups for men of different ages due to the fact that younger men found it more comfortable with people closer to their own age.

Duncan Nicholson, head of funding for the North-East and Cumbria at the National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We’re delighted to be able to fund Heart Wood and the valuable, person-centred work that it does, striving to improve people’s mental health.”