How taking life one step at a time helped Ben's mental health battle

Ben Handford is walking to raise awareness of suicide and money for Norwich Samaritans 

Ben Handford is walking to raise money for Norwich Samaritans - Credit: Ben Handford

A man who has battled with his mental health has said simply stepping outside his front door has helped - and encouraged other people to do the same.

Ben Handford is about to embark on a trek around Norfolk before ending in Norwich. 

Mr Handford, who lives in Mattishall, said that putting one foot in front of the other is a good metaphor for combating mental health issues. 

So he's put it into practise and is aiming to raise £10,000 for Norwich Samaritans, which he says is responsible for saving his life on at least two occasions. 

Ben Hanford hopes to raise £10,000 for Norwich Samaritans  

Ben Handford hopes to raise £10,000 for Norwich Samaritans - Credit: Ben Handford

He said: “They’ve listened to me without judgment during very difficult times.

"Being able to talk to them has stopped me causing pain to a loved one and this has been priceless."

Mr Handford said there is still a great deal of taboo around mental health - particularly in men. 

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He explained: “Several years ago, a close friend of mine committed suicide. 

“I’ve always had regrets that he didn’t know I was struggling, since I've had my struggles, I want to make sure that as many people in Norfolk.” 

Mr Handford was in such a crisis at one point that he was cared for by Hellesdon Hospital. 

He said: “Before the pandemic, mental health was already becoming bigger and bigger. 

Ben Handford is walking to spread the message 'it's okay not to be okay'

Ben Handford is walking to spread the message that "It's okay not to be okay" - Credit: Ben Handford

“During the pandemic a lot of the services that look after people like me suddenly became very hard to reach.” 

He added there is still a taboo around mental health: “Especially middle-aged men need know that it’s okay to not be okay.  

“Step by step I’m making my recovery and I want to help others.” 

Already he has had strangers getting in touch with sponsorship, and are offering to walk with him and share their stories. 

He is encouraging even more to do the same: “If you go on a long walk, all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and slowly, things get a bit better.” 

To help Ben reach his target you can sponsor him via all donations received whether large or small will mean the Norwich Branch of Samaritans can continue help others, like Ben via their unique 24-hour service. 

  • Whatever you're going through Samaritans will face it with you - just call them for free on 116 123 anytime day or night.