Men are being encouraged to open up about isolation and mental health issues at Berkhamsted's Open Door

Open Door is a safe, welcoming and vibrant community and arts space in Berkhamsted

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 11:21 am
Updated Thursday, 25th March 2021, 11:22 am

A charity in Berkhamsted has created a new men's programme to help tackle isolation and mental health issues in the area.

Open Door, a community and arts space on the High Street, is a place where people can be active, creative and social.

The new programme, Connections, offers men’s meet-ups on a range of topics, and encourages men to take part in a men’s yoga group, running groups, a gardening club and a new Repair Café.

Berkhamsted businessman and community activist Jon Russell

The programme manager, volunteer Iain Manson, explains the thinking behind it. He said: “Especially during these restricted times, it’s easy for men to feel isolated and unable to talk about the issues that affect them. ‘Real men just get on with it’ is the message we want to turn on its head.

"By putting on these events, we’re creating a safe space for men to be active, social and honest about their challenges.”

Open Door offer a wide range of activities, from workshops and exhibitions, to volunteering opportunities and other ways to make a difference. Tackling social inequality and isolation is at the heart of what they do as a charity, enabling everyone to connect and contribute, for their own wellbeing and that of the wider community.

Joan Fisher, Open Door Manager, said: “Even though we’re here for everybody, the vast majority of people who take part in our creative and wellbeing activities are women.

"We hope local men will get more and more involved with Open Door, helping us to offer a varied calendar of activities, with something for everyone.”

The next Zoom meet-up takes place at 8pm on Thursday, April 1, and is on the subject of mental health, facilitated by Berkhamsted businessman and community activist Jon Russell.

Jon (pictured) will be opening up about the challenges he has faced and discussing the support mechanisms that can help.

He said: “I’ve suffered from anxiety for the last six years or so and it’s been tough – but the main things I’ve learnt are some coping techniques, my triggers and how surrounding myself with people who check in on me every now and then, or more often when things aren’t great, can help.

"In a time when isolation has been a key factor, I’ve felt more supported than ever. I’m looking forward to joining Iain and the rest of the group to talk about my experiences.”

If you’re interested in joining a Connections men’s meet-up, or would like to find out about the other activities on offer, email [email protected]