‘If we can save one life, it is worth it’ - Walking group launched to help men talk more
© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2008
“If we can save just one life, then it will all be worth it.”
That is the ethos behind a Norfolk and Suffolk-based support group set up to help men who may be struggling with mental health problems.
Kenny Child, 59, of Church Close in Roydon, based on the county boarder between Diss and Bressingham, launched Walk N Talk East after hearing about a group based on the same principles of walking and talking in Yorkshire.
The married father-of-two found himself with “time on his hands” after suffering a stroke last July, which meant he needed to have some extended time off work.
And it was during this time that a post on social media inspired what would become Walk N Talk East.
He said: “Being on social media, I see a lot of things people are going through, and once lockdown came in it became quite apparent a lot of people who were not struggling before were struggling now.
“So when a fellow veteran I knew on Twitter posted about their group Walk N Talk in Redcare and Clevland, in Yorkshire, I was keen to find out more.
“I just commented that it was a great idea and someone should do it down here. They then replied saying that I could replicate it if I wanted to and asked me to start a group for us in Norfolk and Suffolk.
“The idea is that every few weeks those that want meet at a pre-arranged spot, while social distancing of course, can simply walk and use the environment to just talk and discuss their issues.
“It is basically a self-help group for men to hopefully improve their mental health.”
Mr Child, who served in the Royal Air Force for nine years, has also worked in various places across both counties as a chef, including as an executive chef at Jarrold department store in Norwich. He eventually moved into contract catering and then, 18 months ago, began working at Bressingham Garden Centre.
That is when his life took a dramatic change after he suffered a stoke, despite being in good health. At the time he had been working towards becoming semi-retired but was “always too busy”.
Now he works in a different role doing fewer hours per week, allowing him to turn his hand to something else he is passionate about.
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“Too many men seem scared to open up,” he said. “Suicide rates are shocking, especially among veterans.
“I’ve been lucky that I’m not really personally affected by poor mental health but it’s really noticeable how many people are struggling with the whole situation.”
Walk N Talk East is a male-only group focusing on helping people with mental health issues in a non-judgemental environment, Mr Child explained.
He said: “Something as simple as going for a walk and having a chat could be a good starting point for people as it can help to give a sense of purpose.
“The idea is that we gather and go for a walk every two to three weeks. Nobody is under any pressure to share; we just go out for a stroll and then start talking.
“If people have more serious problems then we will signpost them to professional help.
“Obviously a golden rule is confidentiality.”
He added that the group would be user-led but needed men to come and contribute in order for it to be a success.
“We don’t offer professional advice but we do offer a friendly ear and if someone asks me for me advice then I’m happy to share it.
“For me, if we can stop just one person from taking their life then that’s all we want.
“It’s just about talking really and helping men to build up their self-worth; that’s what we’re trying to do. Someone being able to have a place to speak up may save a lot of pain for a family.”
Walk N Talk East has been running for a few weeks and already has around 50 members.
The next walk is due to take place in Great Yarmouth on August 22. The group will be meeting at 10am under Britannia Pier Participants need to be aged 18 and over and must be able to walk at least one mile.
The Facebook group can be found by searching for Walk N Talk East or via Twitter @walkntalkeast.
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