» Robin’s Story: The Ultimate Big Hearts Hero

Robin’s Story: The Ultimate Big Hearts Hero

CONTENT WARNING: this article talks about suicide.


Meet one of our Big Hearts Heroes Robin, who has finally found peace with the support of our charity.


The 58-year old has been through so much in his life, more than anyone should ever expect to cope with. And yet that he’s here, finding a way forward is as much a sign of the man, as anything else. Over the last six years he’s found time, space and compassion here at Tynecastle, which has enabled him to rebuild.


Robin’s life started to become difficult after he experienced a critical illness. He was hospitalised for many weeks, undertaking many more in physical therapy.


Unable to work, or drive, he became isolated. His partner and kids rallied, visiting him in his sick bed every day.


“I didn’t want to admit to myself how bad it was,” he says.


“When you are lying in a hospital bed for five weeks, and then seven weeks for therapy, if it wasn’t for my partner I would not have wanted to live.”


Tragedy would strike Robin and his four children when his partner Jane then died. He was heartbroken, utterly bereft.


“Losing her was just too much,” Robin explains.


“I didn’t want to go on, even though I had kids.


“If it hadn’t been for Big Hearts I probably wouldn’t have been here, because they helped me realise I had to carry on for the kids.”


Robin - The Changing Room


Robin was referred to The Changing Room, a programme delivered in partnership with Scottish Action for Mental Health (SAMH), the SPFL Trust and funded by Movember.


The Changing Room is specifically designed for men in their middle years.


That’s because we know that around 75% of all suicides in Scotland are men, and suicide is the biggest killer of men in this age group.


Over 12 weeks, programme participants can take part in a range of discussions and activities, in the safest of places.


Robin said nothing until a few weeks into the course, and that’s absolutely fine because there’s never any pressure on anyone to talk.


A tool called the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scales (WEMWBS) is used to help participants self-assess their mental health using a scale.


“We were filling out forms, and you would do a form at the end of it about where you started and where you’ve come,” Robin explains.


“There’s a table. I was right down the bottom when I started. Out of ten I was maybe a ‘two’ or ‘three’, but now I am a ‘nine’. I’m not perfect but I have been working on it.


“If Big Hearts are there to help me and I cannot help myself – which is what some of it came down to – you have to do it for yourself.


“If I did anything, more desperate is the word, then who would be there for the kids?


“It is one of the best things that someone referred me to Big Hearts. They have got the best group of folk, volunteers and everything, and I cannot thank Big Hearts enough.”


The support Robin has received has made such a difference and it’s meant he had the opportunity to be a grandfather, even if that role is bittersweet.


“I am more confident now, I can talk about it,” he adds.


“My youngest daughter has had two kids of her own, so I would not have been able to see that. My oldest son has got kids.


“My partner, all she wanted to be was a granny, but she didn’t get it.”


Robin has continued to be supported by Big Hearts. He has problems with his memory and so now attends Football Memories.


Football Memories, a pioneering project from Alzheimer’s Scotland and the Scottish Football Museum, was established at Big Hearts over a decade ago, bringing together fans to re-discover iconic players and games.


He undertakes some volunteering at the sessions but jokes, “I only wash the cups!”.


Like The Changing Room Robin has taken so much from his involvement.


“I never used to talk to anyone,” he says.

“I was quite happy being on my tod if I wasn’t with the kids.

“Now I am managing to talk to ‘strangers’ but now they are not strangers, as I am getting to know them. It’s a social hub, it’s amazing. I’m starting to talk to folk; I’m better at socialising.”


Nobody has yet worked out how to change the past, but when you have the right support you can certainly rewrite the future.


Yes, the award-winning Big Hearts delivers some exceptional programmes that tackle mental health, social isolation and inequality. In doing so they can flood someone’s life with light and love.


But Robin is right when he says our charity cannot do it alone.


That’s why he’s a Big Hearts Hero. Jane would be so proud!


If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health or feeling suicidal, please don’t hesitate to ask for help by contacting your GP, NHS24 on 111, Samaritans on 116 123 or Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87.


– March 2024