ManDown Project supports men's wellbeing in rural communities

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A new initiative is helping to raise awareness of the issue of male suicide and encourage men to look after their mental and physical health.

The ManDown Project, established by Thrive Outdoor, encourages men in north Essex to get active and involved in its FarmRunner programme at Devereux Farm near Frinton-on-Sea in Essex.

FarmRunner was initially launched in July 2019 as a way of getting people together to exercise and socialise in the local area. However, the initiative was put on temporary hiatus due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Help with feeling isolated or overwhelmed

Thrive Outdoor is teaming up with The Farming Community Network (FCN) charity and the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group to relaunch the project in May 2021, following the easing of lockdown restrictions across England.

While open to everyone – men and women – this year the initiative hopes to particularly target men who may be feeling isolated or overwhelmed.

Andy Bareham, director and personal trainer at Thrive Outdoor, said: “The pandemic and the lockdowns have changed the way we live, socialise, work and exercise. It has been an immense challenge, and we’ve all had our dark days – some darker than others. As men in particular, we’re not always great at saying how we feel, and when something goes wrong we can become easily overwhelmed. We need to encourage an open and positive dialogue with men across our industry.”

Ben Eagle, director with Thrive Outdoor, said: “We’ve teamed up with FCN and the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group to offer men that sense of purpose, fulfilment and community that we found through Farm Runner, as well as encouraging us all to talk about suicide and reduce the stigma.”

Staying healthy in body and mind

Philip Wilson, head of operations and regional director (Eastern Counties) with The Farming Community Network, said: “The most valuable assets on the farm are the farmer and the people who work on that farm. It is vital that those people look after themselves and stay fit and healthy in body and mind. Projects such as ManDown and Farm Runner play a key role in keeping people in a good place mentally and physically, getting them socialising and meeting others, and opening up important conversations around mental health and wellbeing.”

Farm Runner

Farm Runner will be relaunched on Saturday 1 May. Sessions will be fortnightly from May to October.

A pre-run event for men interested in ManDown will take place on Saturday 17 April.

A separate, bespoke programme will also be launched especially for men, inviting them to come to Farm Runner sessions at Devereux Farm near Frinton on Sea in Essex (CO13 0DAA), working directly with Andy and Ben, and featuring inspiring guests.

To find out more about Farm Runner, visit the Thrive Outdoor Facebook page or email: aW5mb0B0aHJpdmVvdXRkb29yLmNvLnVr

The Farming Community Network (FCN) supports farmers and farming families through difficult times and periods of change. Each year FCN helps approximately 6,000 farming people with a wide range of issues, including animal disease, mental ill-health, financial difficulties and family disputes.

FCN’s 450 volunteers across England and Wales understand farming life and provide local support for rural communities. FCN’s Helpline (03000 111 999) is open 7am-11pm every day of the year. FCN also operates an e-Helpline (aGVscEBmY24ub3JnLnVr).

For those experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or am9Ac2FtYXJpdGFucy5vcmc=.