Men Outside - helping suicide prevention

By Col

There's power in communities helping everyone and there's power in spending time outdoors. So when CHAOS Group Cornwall applied to the Alpkit Foundation last year we knew the project was going to make an impact. 

CHAOS stands for Community Helping All Of Society, spanning a range of industries and striving to offer a range of community services too. 

They were after some support for their Men Outside Suicide Prevention Project, a group of 10 male participants from a range of ages, disabilities, abilities and ethnicity, all of which are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing. Most have long term health conditions, are unemployed or receiving benefits. All live within Mid and West Cornwall, where there are pockets of high deprivation.

Bev Hunkin, Chaos co-ordinator told us a bit more about the project. 

"Men Outside is about men helping themselves by helping each other. It's a co-produced project aimed at men who are experiencing isolation/ loneliness with the main focus being to prevent suicide and reduce the risk of self-harm. They meet regularly for the social connection/ company /camaraderie while they shape every aspect of this project, sharing existing skills/ hobbies and learning from each other.

This project is an outdoors one over a 12 month period. The activities at the farm, include being immersed in nature, bushcraft, doing tasks like building fires, cooking food, fishing from the beach or generally socialising or spending time looking after the animals and are 5 hours in duration."  

As we all know the British weather is unpredictable at the best of times, but the group will meet during wet and cold weather as well of beautiful days too! So they approached the Alpkit Foundation for help towards wet weather jackets, trousers and wellington boots for up to 10 men.

Thanks to Bev for getting back in touch, as it's amazing to hear the impact that these sessions were having on those taking apart. Here are just a couple of ‘good news case studies’ which highlight the benefits and life changes being made.

“When AB initially started attending the session’s he was very quiet, wouldn’t sit with the group or eat and on the first day had a panic attack. AB is now a confident member of the group, sharing knowledge and skills, having double portions at lunchtime and the banter he has with the Group Facilitator and the other guys is hilarious. AB feels he now has something to work towards and look forward to. AB has recently purchased himself a few bushcraft tools and is practicing in his own time. 

Before SR attended his first Men Outside session he had barely left the house in 6 months due to anxiety and depression. SR initially was very quiet, wouldn’t eat and would keep himself to himself. This week SR amazed us all, he arrived beaming ear to ear, laughing and chatting with everyone. He was really engaging all day, sharing lots of stories of his life and how he has been utilising the skills he has learnt at these sessions during the week so keep himself busy. SR has spent the last few sessions whitling a spoon It was great to see how happy he was with the final product. SR has plans to make a bowl next and also feels more positive and confident.”

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