Need for kids mental health help is soaring, says Heckmondwike support group

Jim Johnson and Elliot Gorman from Luke's Lads.
Jim Johnson and Elliot Gorman from Luke's Lads.

Worried parents of kids as young as 11 are seeking help from a mental health support group in Heckmondwike to save them from suicide.

Luke’s Lads, based at Timestep Studio at Ponderosa Business Park, says it has been overwhelmed by the soaring number of young people needing help with mental health issues.

The organisation - part of charity Timestep Community Dance - was founded eight months ago by loved ones of 25-year-old Luke, who died last year. They wanted to provide a free, safe space for men to exercise and talk.

All the team are trained in personal training, mental health and suicide intervention.

Almost immediately, it was inundated with calls for support for younger people so they started a juniors group for 11 to 15-year-olds. It also now runs support sessions for women - Butterflies - Butterflies Juniors.

Rachel Walmsley, founder of Timestep Community Dance and close friend of Luke’s family, said they receive referrals from West Yorkshire Police, Northorpe Hall Child and Family Trust and local schools.

“The number of young people that are suffering from mental health issues is going up and up,” she said.

“We’ve had parents of children as young as eight or nine asking us for help. These are children on our doorstep, they’re in our area.”

She said one local counselling provider has a 32-week waiting list.

The idea for Luke’s Lads came while Luke was still alive. Rachel said he was finding that exercise and talking at meetings of support group Andy’s Man Club was helpful, and she suggested creating sessions that combined both.

“He was absolutely 100 per cent behind it,” she said.

“We’re very passionate about what we do and we have an amazing team.”

The organisation relies on fund raising and donations but Rachel said the support they have received from the community has been amazing. A recent luncheon raised over £5,000 and Time Step Community Dance is holding a James Bond themed-charity ball in September. For more information visit