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Men's Talk

Thanks to funding from Kirklees Council, Community Links’ CLEAR service in Kirklees has launched ‘Men’s Talk’, an exciting new performing arts group for men with experience of mental health issues. The group aims to engage men in a creative process which enables them to explore their experiences of mental health and creates a platform for them to speak directly to a range of people.

Men from Kirklees were invited to join the group from June 2018 at weekly workshops held in Dewsbury and Huddersfield. To date, a total of 24 men have accessed the group.

A typical session begins with a physical warm up, stretching and breathing exercise followed by quick fire drama games and plenty of laughter. The next part of the session focuses on developing theatre skills and exploring theatre forms – physical theatre, melodrama, improvisation. The sessions always finish with a song!

The devising process involves the men using theatre techniques to share their experiences of mental health issues, the services they have received, what worked and what didn’t, the barriers they faced and what they would like to see happen in the future.

Six men from the group took part in the World Mental Health Day event on October 10th and talked in front of an audience of over 200 at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield!  The script was produced using the men’s own words and experiences which they shared during the devising process.  It was a nerve racking process for all the men but they felt an immense sense of satisfaction and pride at the end of the performance.  The group is aiming for another performance early next year!

Here is what some of the participants have to say about the group ;

“It’s fun, it’s educational, it’s a once in a life time opportunity”

“Camaraderie, making new friends, coming out of my comfort zone and learning to deal with my own issues – that’s made me come back and want to do more…”

“Seeing the development of the lads, seeing them going from shy people to actors”

“We’re all in it together – if the rest of them can do it, so can I”

“Every time I come I get a bit more confident”

“Everyone is growing into it.. it’s an adventure”

“It’s put together well, it’s engaging, it’s making everyone’s confidence rise, you can see it every week”

“It pushes me out of my comfort zone and I need that, I need to look to the future, to have something to look forward to.”

“The purpose behind it is tangible…”

“I’m learning something new and trying to get a message out to other men in our situation”

“It’s kind of like a new-found life”

CLEAR’s Men’s Engagement and Development Worker, Stuart Hawkes, recently featured on Kirklees local TV talking about the project. To watch the interview, visit https://www.facebook.com/kirkleeslocaltv/videos/1920091184717495/

Click here to read Stuart’s blog Applied Theatre : Men and Mental Health

For more info about the project contact Stuart on 07391 868752, email stuart.hawkes@commlinks.co.uk