Between the 15th and 21st June the world celebrates Men’s Health Week. This is a time to bring awareness to health issues that affect men disproportionately and focuses on getting men to become aware of problems they may have or could develop, and gain the courage to do something about it.
Goldsmiths Community Centre is proud to host the Downham Men’s Group and have continued to work with them, in a safe socially distanced way, during the lockdown. This guest post is from Trevor Pybus, the project coordinator.
For the last few months social interaction has been limited for us all. Partaking in conversations and meeting people have been very limited. As an individual and someone who is used to chatting I know that this new norm is not good for my wellb eing. My physical health has also been impacted as I have not been able to deliver the walking football session.
Mentally, I am really nervous about the short and long term impact of the lockdown on the Downham Community, especially men. The Blue Ribbon Foundation will be trying to build a virtual community to try and help as I know that, going forward, there will be a greater need for programmes that support and engage us.
Before the pandemic male mental health has become a key concern for professionals, policy makers and younger members of the Royal Family. Men are much less likely to be diagnosed and treated for mental health problems but 75% of suicides are male. 1 in 4 women get treated for depression whilst only 1 in 10 men get help. Our goal is to create a place where men feel at home and can follow many differing practical interests which are good for their mental and physical wellbeing.
Since May a handful of Downham Men have been meeting at Goldsmiths Community Centre, taking socially distanced exercise, while trying to clear the gardens and a space within the centre for a ‘shed’ type project. Before we could safely work within the space we produced a risk assessment. This is really important for how we deal with looking after ourselves and avoiding the risk of spreading COVID 19. But it does mean that the sessions are restricted to a team that is small enough for social distancing to happen.
For the first couple of weeks we met on Mondays & Fridays, and hopefully we will continue this rota.
The first task we focused on was the clearing of the garden spaces, making sure that we put the results of our clear up into plies so that the clear up as environmental as possible. We are trying to ensure that anything that can be reused, recycled or is compostable is not put into the landfill..
It took a couple of sessions before we could empty out the ‘shed’. However, clearing the garden allowed us together to have a conversation about the space and importantly how everybody could use it. Currently the space has no electricity, no heat with some quite novel walls. Good questions are raised. How do we deliver it? What should go in it? How long before we grow out of it? Who is it for? How do we make it inclusive? How quickly can we increase the sessions? Where do we get the funding from? Who delivers the internal works? What timescales are we looking at?
We have also started to clear the overgrown allotment site, which hopefully can be reinstated and used to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for the Apple Tree Café . We have tidied up the public areas, removing weeds and rubbish. In spite of our efforts to be green the clearage has still resulted in filling three skips. The grounds are now starting to show the benefits of our work.
There are so many possible opportunities where the skills of the community can be used in a positive way. There is play equipment, and toys, that require love and care to restore them so children can enjoy them, there is an overgrown former Forest School that could be reimagined.
If you want to join us, please contact
Facebook: Downham Men’s Group
Mobile: 07821 292317