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30th Jun, 2022

Stratford resident reaches out to create men's support group

A MEN’S support group has been set up after a Stratford resident struggling with depression reached out to the community.

Philip Coldicott posted on a Facebook group to ask if anyone in the town was interested in helping him set up a men’s support group.

The resident – who regularly volunteers at Stratford Playhouse – was overwhelmed after his post gained over 100 responses.

He told the Observer: “I struggle with major depression and I find it can be difficult to access medical help and facilities at the moment as they’re so full.

“After talking with people about my struggles, I thought ‘somebody’s got to bite the bullet and speak up’, and I couldn’t believe I got so many responses. So many people have offered to help – it’s been amazing.”

The sessions will be held in the gardens at the Lifeways charity centre following a response from charity manager James Pavitt to Philip’s post.

James said: “Phil’s idea is very much needed as there are very few support services exclusively for men. As Lifeways has an acre of community gardens which can be used for meetings, I offered the use of the grounds. Lifeways is thrilled to be able to offer support in this way as we agree with Phil that there is a growing need for men to have a private space to talk, particularly during the current crisis.”

Other charities involved include Stratford Samaritans, creative wellbeing charity Escape Arts, mental health charity Springfield Mind, along with Doug Armstrong from Street Arts.

Philip added: “It just shows sometimes you just have to ask for help. Especially with all the struggles around covid, we’ve all got to pull together. If we get something off the ground it will be achievement. Even if it’s just a few men getting together – if we save one life, we save a life don’t we?”

The first informal gathering will be held this Friday (October 2) at 10.30am, at the Lifeways centre on Albany Road.  Toilets are available on site but attendees are advised to bring their own refreshments. No bookings are required.

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