AN innovative social enterprise dinner in Dudley saw funding awarded to a mental health group that helps men deal with depression and anxiety.

Dudley Soup took place on May at the Gather cafe in the town centre and saw individuals from projects across Dudley pitch their ideas over dinner, with the aim of winning funds to make their idea a reality.

Neil Haines, from Dudley MAD (Men with Anxiety and Depression), took home £250 on the night to help his work after giving a pitch describing his own struggles with mental ill health.

The former rugby player spoke about how in all of his time playing the sport the physical injuries were much easier to cope with than the anxiety and depression he had over the past several years.

Dudley MAD was started by Neil after he began to speak about his struggles with mental ill health after years of suffering in silence.

The group now meets up on the first and third Thursday evening of the month and organise outdoor events and walks and invite guest speakers.

Neil explained: "I give guys a free, informal space where they can open up with like-minded men. Men lock themselves away from this; I did for several years. There are so many men like me in Dudley, and yet for many years I thought I was the only one. "Fortunately I’m out of the real dark times now so I’m the ideal man to help others."

He now plans to invest the grant so the group can reach out to more men around Dudley.

Organisers also paid tribute to other strong pitches given on the night, including Marlene from arts and wellbeing community project CReheart-Lab; Neil from Agility Kidz which aims to improve children's physical health through games and James from System of Strings community puppet show which works to bring theatre to the community.

Applications are open now for pitches for the next Dudley Soup which takes place on July 18.