Cars and camaraderie go hand in hand for this unique support group.

Cars are more than simple machines that move us around. They are collections of memories, experiences, and emotions that often times can change lives. A car is where you learn freedom, and it’s a tool for embarking on adventures. Cars can be so many things, and for a group of men in Australia, the car is purveyor of hope and path to healing. Klassic Transformations is a group program designed to help older men suffering from mental illness and social isolation by bringing them together to restore and sell classic cars. Thanks to ABC Australia, we have a closer look at this organization.

The group was started by Ashley Abell and his partner Tania De Brincat. Years after attempting suicide and failing to find a support structure that could help him, Abell founded Klassic Transformations. The group meets twice a week and is run inside of Abell’s restoration garage. The program takes middle-aged men and disabled people who are at risk of self-harm, and it gives them a place to bond, talk, and reintegrate into some semblance of normal society. When the cars are completed, they are sold off to provide funding for more projects.

For many of the men who are part of this program, it has literally been lifesaving. But things are not all roses and burnouts for the Australian support group. As anyone who has restored and sold a car can tell you, it’s not easy to turn a profit. Despite fundraising efforts and grant applications, Abell had to seriously cut the program back. What once was a safe place for 30 socially embattled men is now down to merely eight. And there is a chance that Abell may need to cut the program entirely.

It’s absolutely heartwarming to see this craft and hobby that we all love bringing joy and a sense of belonging to so many in need, but it will be just as devastating to see the venture fail. It’s not always easy to see from the outside, but for many people support groups like these are the only thing stopping them from committing terrible acts of self harm. We wish Mr. Abell all the luck in the world on keeping this incredible program up and running.

If you are in need of help or are having thoughts of self-harm, there are resources to help you. If you are in the USA, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For those of you in Canada you can call 1-833-456-4566. You can also text for help by texting “home” to 741741 in the US or 686868 in Canada.