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Introducing Get The Boys a Lift

Get The Boys a Lift are the first organisation to benefit from the community events at Bluestone’s Blue Lagoon. The community events will be open to local residents and will provide a unique opportunity to raise funds for various local charitable causes with 75% of the ticket sales value going directly to the charity hosting the event. The remaining 25% will be going to the Bluestone Foundation for distribution to local good causes through the Pembrokeshire Association for Voluntary Services (PAVs).

But who are Get the Boys a Lift and what work do they do in our home county of Pembrokeshire? We met them at their brand-new café at 40 Bridge Street in Haverfordwest to find out.

Get the Boys a Lift (GTBAL) is a community interest company offering free and easily accessible mental health support for people in Pembrokeshire. Starting out as a group of five friends doing a group hitch hike and raising money for various charities, it’s since grown to an organisation in its own right with a café, clothing range and counselling rooms.

“We wanted to see the difference the money we raised was making,” said Ryan Evans, one of the founders. “We saw a gap in the market for an immediate counselling service that was fast, accessible and free.”

Ryan grew up in Pembrokeshire and he’s witnessed firsthand how much people have benefitted from the services in his home county. “We’ve gone from humble beginnings to a professional place which can host people,” explained Ryan. They now have two counsellors and the capacity to offer hours to student counsellors, in order to help with their hours.  Since the beginning, they’ve provided free counselling to more than 550 people.

“I didn’t know how big the demand for counselling was,” said Ryan. “You see a massive change in people, from their first visit to their last.”

Such was the appeal of the hitch hiking exploits and the clothing range they’d developed alongside, getting a permanent base was the next step and the GTBAL café was created. Having moved to the current premises at the end of 2023, the bustling café has become a thriving part of the Haverfordwest and Pembrokeshire communities. Ryan quit his job to make it happen.

“It’s a neutral place to come and meet and put resources in one place,” said Ryan. “People can just pop in. It’s nice to think we’ve done this, it’s almost surreal at times.

“My favourite thing is seeing people come in on their own, perhaps quite timid, and weeks later you see them coming in together.”

Coffee prices have remained the same since they started and they don’t plan to put prices up any time soon. It’s all about the “community vibe”. Ryan thinks the stigma around mental health can still put people off from seeking help. But GTBAL gives people a “simple” way for them to talk to someone straightaway. They simply send a message via the website and they are referred straight to a trained counsellor.

“The whole idea was to break the stigma,” Ryan said. “I don’t think we can underestimate the impact that we had.”

The GTBAL clothing range is designed to appeal to the younger generation, if only to start the conversations early. “They are the difference,” said Ryan. “If you’re 18 and you know where you can access support you will go there.”

The appeal has taken the GTBAL name beyond Pembrokeshire with merchandise sent all over the world. Ryan added: “Pembrokeshire is behind us. There’s a community fire, people feel really fiercely about us.”

Non-profit organisations interested in participating in future events are encouraged to contact the Bluestone Foundation at foundation@bluestonewales.com.