Get the Boys a Lift
Looking back, I first met Gareth Owens in the busy building site that has now become the headquarters of Get the Boys a Lift in Haverfordwest.
“We have created a monster,” Gareth told me then with a laugh.
He went on to explain that this thriving project had started by accident from an idea to do a sponsored hitchhike. Gareth and his friends had wanted to raise awareness around mental health, particularly for young people.
He had returned from New Zealand and found himself reflecting on his last years at school when a couple of young people had taken their own lives. It bothered him that people don’t feel they can talk about their stresses and he considered how he might be able to change some of the Taboos around mental health issues.
The idea he came up with then was around a sponsored hitchhike.
Back then he told me, “I had the idea of asking people to buy a T-shirt instead of just handing over cash to the charity. My brother was working for a print works, so I enlisted him, and we produced these T-shirts. We asked people to give £20 and they got their T-shirt. It really took off. People liked the idea and all the money went to Papyrus who are a suicide prevention charity.”
The first hitch ( The idea being that you don’t have to know someone to give them a lift.) covered over 700 miles all around Wales in a big loop and when he came back people kept asking for more T-shirts. Gareth took out a loan and more T-shirts were printed. Then a boozy evening out with the boys sparked the decision to do it again, but this time to make a competition of it. A friend built a website with payment options for people to buy/donate online and the planning for the next trip began.
In June 2018, 5 of the lads set off to hitch to every capital city in the UK. It was a race to cover thousands of miles and it was Greg who won.
“We realised we had started something that appealed to young people all over the world so in August 2018 we decided we needed proper premises. We had been operating out of garages and spare rooms, but when Value Independence offered us space, we jumped at the opportunity.”
Since then, the project has grown and grown and people are buying their merchandise all over the world.
The space they found was 7A Dew Street in Haverfordwest, where we first talked and which is now a busy hub with a coffee bar, the Get The Boys a Lift t-shirts and other merchandise and a place for people to meet and get support.
Want to know more about this exciting project?
Go to their facebook page or their website: