Man Up scheme in Stoke-on-Trent to tackle mental health

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Clare Reynolds, 34, co-artistic director of Restoke wants men from all walks of life to take part in Man Up, a project looking at mental health and Masculinity. Our reporter Emily Sleight caught up with her to find out more.

Restoke, based in Stoke-on-Trent, are a performing arts company that focus on people’s experiences in life.

“We’ve just started a new project called man-up, every project addresses a social theme, for this performance we wanted to tackle some of the stigma of people living with mental health issues”

Co-director Clare Reynolds wants men to open up more about how they’re feeling, whether that be through music, art, dance, and many other creative platforms.

“We really wanted to do an all-male show, in past performances it has been predominantly women getting involved. It was around a 2:1 ratio of women to men that get involved in our work.”

Clare understands that there are many barriers with participation particularly with men. This allowed Restoke to address a topical issue that should be addressed a lot more in today’s society.

“I think a project like this will most definitely have a positive impact on mental health. At the minute we’re running workshops and we’ve been really overwhelmed with the amount of interest from men in the project.”

Over 20 men attended the first Restoke creative workshop last week. “They were all moving and writing and drawing together and it was really special. Our next few creative sessions are beginning to sell out very quickly”

Mental health is slowly becoming an issue that people aren’t afraid to talk about, with it being very much in the public eye currently, people are recognising it’s okay to not be okay.

“I think what’s helped recently is men speaking out in the public eye, particularly high-profile men like Prince Harry. It’s just really helped open up a dialogue and I think that’s why our project has become much more well-known”

The next workshop will be on March 3rd at 1pm at The New Vic Theatre, in Newcastle-under- Lyme, with the final performance taking place at the end of august (date not yet confirmed.)

For more information on Restoke visit their website: www.restoke.org.uk

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