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Meet the Team

Our team is a bunch of people who do their best to see the potential in every moment and work hard to make a difference every day. 

Our unwavering belief in what we're doing and what we can achieve is what gives Tough To Talk its heart and soul and is what will make a difference to the men we're here to help. 

 

Our leadership team and Trustee Board bring a depth and breadth of knowledge and experience across diverse sectors, and we know that together, we can reduce the number of male suicide, and help break the stigma.

  

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T2T FOUNDER

STEVE WHITTLE

Charity Charmer and Magician of Generosity - Crafting spectacular solutions for this great cause, orchestrating miracles for those men who need it, and facilitating impactful donations to make a difference.

 

In a world where we're constantly being told to “be strong,” it can feel impossible for anyone who's experienced any type of pain or difficulty in their life.

 

This is especially true when someone is trying hard to not just survive, but to thrive — and they often find themselves at the intersections between mental health stigmas: unable to talk about what hurts them because others will judge them harshly; and discouraged from reaching out by an outdated system that doesn't work well enough...

 

That's why we've created Tough To Talk.

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HEAD OF OPERATIONS. THE FOOTBALL ASSCIATION AND T2T TRUSTEE

TIM FOSTER

Tim currently works as Head of Operations for The Football Association.  Focussing on the Grassroots game, in his role Tim’s mission is to unite communities and improve the health of the nation, using the power of football.

 

Health and wellness has always been a keen area of focus for Tim.   Much of his working career has been spent in the health and fitness industry, where most recently Tim was Operations Director and Product Director for a global health club brand.  This time also included a stint in South Africa, when Tim and his family relocated to Cape Town for a while.

 

Whilst studying for his BA in Recreation Management at the University of Sheffield, Tim found a love for mountain biking in the Peak District, a passion he retains to this day.  Tim recently undertook his MA in Leadership in Sport and has always strongly believed that 'exercise is medicine', for both the physiological and psychological benefits it brings.

 

Why am I passionate about T2T?

I'll put my hands up.  Talking about me, especially my feelings or state of mind, has never been my thing.  I will usually quickly deflect the conversation or give as short an answer as I can, moving on into a more comfortable conversation.

 

But.... I have always believed that exercise is medicine and I am equally convinced now that talking is medicine too.  We men need to understand that better and embrace talking more.  The way to make it less uncomfortable is to do it more, to practise it, to normalise it.  In doing so I know not only can we start to feel better in ourselves, but through talk we can also make life changing, positive impact to others - whether we know it or not.

 

Tough to Talk resonated with me as I agree that there's a particular tone of voice needed for men when it comes to talking about how we feel, how we are coping... or not.  As we start to put a spotlight on the need to talk more, this tone is especially important.  I'm delighted to be a part of something that can change lives.  Something that can save lives.  Let's say how it how it is.  Let's make a difference.  Let's get tough.

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HEAD OF LEARNING, DEVELOPMENT AND DIVERSITY AT COOPER PARRY AND T2T TRUSTEE

ERYN FROST

I currently work as Head of Learning, Diversity and Inclusion at Cooper Party. I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. Originally from America, I live in the West Midlands.

 

Why am i passionate about T2T?

It can be incredibly difficult to reach out and ask for help, if you are a man, you have the additional barriers of cultural and social norms. I don’t want my son to hesitate if he needs help. I don’t want him to fear repercussions for being honest.

 

We need to redefine strength and what it means to be a man. We need to think about the impact of destructive phrases such as, “boys don’t cry”, “take it like a man” or “don’t be a girl” when boys or men show vulnerability.

 

I want my son to grow up in a world where men being vulnerable is celebrated. And asking for help is the action of a strong man, a real man.

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PSYCHOTHERAPIST AND FOUNDER OF THE LISTENING COLLECTIVE

DAWN WRAY

I am Dawn Wray, and I am many things, some of which are a mystery even to me. I am a former Operations Manager, a Psychotherapist (in final stages of accreditation) and co-founder of The Listening Collective. I'm a Mum, and a wife. I run, but I'm not a runner, I cook, but I'm not a cook, and I'm a flawed human being doing the best I can every day. 

 

Why am I passionate about T2T?

I'm passionate about Tough to Talk, because we all need somewhere safe to talk. We sometimes need somewhere where we can go places, and with parts of ourselves that are hard to be with, and we don't always show the world. in todays world I believe there is too much pressure put on individuals to 'think positive' or 'create good habits' and this misses the fact that we are not alone in this world.

 

We heal in relationship and with other people, and the problems are not within us, they are also outside of us, and we are impacted by them. The pandemic has shown us this all too clearly. And rightly or wrongly, men do go within themselves more than women. I don't want to be gendered, and I don't want to ignore facts. As a therapist, I feel the privilege of being with, and listening to another human heart. 

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T2T SECRETARY

REBECCA BATTERHAM

I’m Bec, and I’m the T2T Secretary – and Chief Checker! My natural need to dot and cross every i and t means I’m the perfect balance for Steve’s jazz hands, endless enthusiasm, and determination and complete belief that everything is possible.

 

Why am I passionate about T2T?

I’m the proud mum of an utterly brilliant 19 year-old, and the proud girlfriend of an utterly amazing suicide survivor, who reminds me every day how very lucky I am to have him in my life, and how very grateful I am that he’s still here...but also how tough it is for men to talk about stuff they might be struggling with.

 

I’m also reminded every day that one little interruption - a kind word from a stranger, someone in the right place at the right time - can save a life, and that’s why this charity is so important to me.

 

I want more people like me to keep being thankful for people like Steve still being around, and to help men who are struggling to have the courage to talk about it.

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TRUSTEE T2T, RSPCA AND THE SCOUTS

STUART HOWELLS

Before retirement, Stuart had a wide-ranging 35-year career in banking, ultimately specialising in heading up Risk Management and Assurance functions across the NatWest Group. In addition, he was an Executive Leadership Coach developing appropriate culture across Senior Managers and Executives. He prides himself on leading highly successful and diverse teams across the UK. Stuart qualified as an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers and a Chartered Banker.

 

Stuart has been heavily involved in national charities as a trustee, as Vice-Chair of the UK Scouts and now as a trustee of the RSPCA. In addition to his professional background, he has become an expert in the governance of federated charities. Through his work with the Scouts, where he is also Chair of the Nottinghamshire Scouts, Stuart has a huge interest in the education of young people, both formal and non-formal. He is a trustee and Director of the Nova Education Trust, covering 15 schools across the East Midlands.

 

He can frequently be found volunteering at his local RSPCA animal shelter and doting on his cats, Frodo and Reggie. Stuart totally disagrees with W C Fields, who coined the phrase "never work with children or animals".

 

Why am I passionate about T2T?

Stuart is committed to Tough To Talk as he has seen how difficult it can be for, especially men, to open up about their true feelings. Many stereotypically want to be seen to be “tough” and therefore find it really tough to talk. If Tough To Talk can prevent just one suicide it will be a success.

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T2T TREASURER AND CHIEF BEAN COUNTER

CHARLOTTE ALLEN-NEALE

I’m an Accountant through and through - having held a number of CFO roles in the not-for-profit sector : the NHS and a Multi-Academy Trust (education). I will major on monitoring finances, ensuring regulatory compliance, and try to ensure that we are maximising the impact of each pound invested by the organisation. 

 

Why am I passionate about T2T?

 

I have a wonderful husband, three sons and a daughter. I’ve supported a family member with crippling anxiety and felt utterly helpless. I want to support this brilliant charity which will support men who are finding it tough to talk and ensure my sons and husband are able to open up.

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Psychological Practitioner, Mental Health Advocate and Campaigner

Nardia O'Connor

I'm Nardia O’Connor. I'm currently part of the Mental Health & Productivity Pilot Project at the University of Derby. My role? To work with a diverse range of organisations, helping them foster positive mental health in their workplaces and encourage an open culture around mental health.

With a 22-year career spanning education and project-based work, I've taught in Secondary, College and University settings, most recently teaching Psychology at the University of Derby. Throughout my time in education, I've supported some of the most vulnerable students - those dealing with mental health difficulties and Looked After Young People. I've devised and delivered a host of social and emotional wellbeing interventions during this period. My project work includes a Child Safety Project where I supported vulnerable parents in areas identified as being ‘at risk’ nationally.

My MSc in Psychology revealed to me the crucial role of attachment in children and adults, and its profound impact on mental health. I'm intrigued by various psychological aspects including compassion, the importance of connection, and recently, Men’s mental health and the promotion of help-seeking. I'm driven by a deep-seated desire to help those struggling with their mental health and wellbeing, particularly tackling the stigma and discrimination they face. I'm now looking forward to embarking on a PhD to explore and devise a workplace intervention for men’s mental health in male-dominated spaces.

Behind all this passion for work, I'm a proud mother of two incredible boys. They're one of the main reasons why I'm so dedicated to this cause. And when I'm not working or parenting, I enjoy expressing myself through spoken word poetry and playing five-a-side football.

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