Why Talk Norwich City host Jack is helping us tackle poor mental health.

| By Keiron Pim
Why Talk Norwich City host Jack is helping us tackle poor mental health.
Men’s reluctance to discuss their mental health is well-known, as is the fact that many find it easier to talk about sport than open up about their feelings.

But bonding over football can lead them to confide in each other about more personal matters, as Jack Reeve has come to see. The YouTube channel, Talk Norwich City, he co-hosts with Chris Reeve (no relation) has a 97 per cent male viewership. Over the past decade they have built a warm rapport with their viewers, especially since the Covid lockdowns when their mixture of Norwich City news and chat became a lifeline for City fans stuck at home in isolation. As more people began to get in touch disclosing their difficulties, Jack and Chris realised that they needed to connect with mental health professionals.

“We found particularly during those lockdown eight months or so, we felt quite a sense of responsibility to our community,” says Jack. “We received so many messages about mental health and we didn’t feel qualified to address those issues.

“So we came to Norfolk and Waveney Mind, and said ‘Look, there’s something we can do here, whether that be fundraising or just pointing people in the right direction’. We’ve been working together now for about three years.”

During that time, Jack and Chris’s fundraising for Norfolk and Waveney Mind has spanned from Jack running 5km a day every day of January (both this year and last year!), to auctioning Norwich City memorabilia, to wearing Mind’s trademark blue for World Mental Health Day – a tough challenge for devoted Canaries fans who usually steer well clear of Ipswich Town’s colours. Just during the past year, Jack’s impressive efforts have raised more than £2000 for the charity. Alongside this is the less obvious work of privately responding to viewers who are struggling with poor mental health and guiding them towards Norfolk and Waveney Mind’s services.

“Talk Norwich City has become a really lovely community and for whatever reason, our viewers trust us,” says Jack, who is 26 and lives in Fleggburgh, near Great Yarmouth. “We get a lot of DMs. It can be people that have gone through divorces and lost custody of their kids, or have lost jobs, or have health issues that have caused mental health issues.

“I got an email last week from someone that was watching our video. We [Norwich City] were playing in the evening against Cardiff. He’d found out that his wife had been cheating on him, and it was ‘I need help’, basically. So that’s a prime example of how having that outlet for us to point to is just so vital.

“So it’s about making people aware that there is help there, and actually, sometimes problems we’re all facing in our lives aren’t as big as we think they are, once you dissect it and speak about it.

“We send them to you and then we hope that in X amount of months’ time, we’ll speak to them again and they’re in a much better place. And that seems to be the typical kind of journey, which is really pleasing.”

The issue of how to cope with poor mental health has been part of Jack and Chris’s friendship from the outset. They first connected as teenagers over their shared experience of grief, having each lost a parent when they were young. They fit their work on the channel around their day jobs, typically producing around five videos a week (thanks to “a limited social life and understanding partners!”, Jack laughs). They hope to continue raising funds and awareness for NWM for as long as they keep running the channel.

“We’ve got this community of 30,000 Norwich fans,” he says. “It’s an important demographic, and I think it’s difficult to get to those people sometimes.

“We do feel a deep sense of responsibility to them, so to be connected to Norfolk and Waveney Mind is really handy for us. If we do have people come to us who are struggling, we’ll obviously listen and chat with them, but for the actual professional help, we’ve got somewhere to direct people and that’s just priceless.”


Jack running 5k a day during January



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