A Walk in the Park
By Ben Cornwell
A new walking group to help men open up about their mental health has come to Hastings. MenWalkTalk is a mental health charity that aims to bring men together to walk, talk and share their feelings.
The charity was started in January 2020 by founder and CEO Matt P, who had been struggling with his own mental health due to troubles at work with stress. Six months earlier, he had decided to take part in a fundraiser for Samaritans called ‘Samarathon’ ─ run, jog or walk 26.2miles throughout July. After walking one mile every day to work, he found that his new routine significantly improved his mood and felt that it could help other people too.
“I remember on my walks seeing loads of guys walking or running on their own, and I thought rather than just a nod of the head or a good morning, what if we could have a more in-depth conversation?” Matt P said. “I was aware that there were probably a lot of people struggling that were unable to say it out loud. So, I decided to set up a walking and talking group for Littlehampton, and it just took off from there.”
MenWalkTalk received funding to set up a group in Hastings through Hastings Mind after a men’s consultation in the local branch found that there was a desire for a men’s walking group in the area. The charity has walking groups set up predominantly across the South Coast, with walks in Brighton, Worthing and now Hastings. But they have plans to expand their reach further so that there is always a group near anyone that may need it across the country.
There was a good turnout for the first walk on Saturday 27 February with eight people of all ages and backgrounds (and a dog) taking part. The walk was run by Brighton volunteer and walking group leader Matt S. He told HIP that attendees are welcome to contribute to the conversation and say as much or as little as they want. There is no pressure to talk. People are more than welcome to come along for a bit of fresh air and exercise.
He added, “I am there to listen and to offer support. You can’t make somebody open up, but it’s about trying to facilitate that. If somebody doesn’t want to talk because there are too many people, I will hang back and give them that space to talk without the pressure of other people.”
• All walks are free to attend by men over 18 and last for around 1.5 hours. The next monthly Hastings walk will be
on Sunday 27 March at 10.30am, meeting outside Eat @ the Park Café in Alexandra Park.
• To find out more or to sign up for the next walk, visit their website www.menwalktalk.co.uk
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