The relaunch of a mental health dog walking group is giving struggling men hope that “there is light at the end of the tunnel”.
During the pandemic, Dudes and Dogs moved its services online to continue providing a talking therapy space.
But Bristol founder Rob Osman said he has been concerned that lockdown has given men “permission” to “lock themselves away” and not talk.
Sales Rep Ian Coates said the walks in April will bring his “safe space” back.
Dudes and Dogs was started in 2019 and has been providing a space where men can talk openly about mental health issues they may be experiencing, whilst taking part in a dog walk.
The organisation started in Bristol, has since branched out and has recruited Dog Dudes around the world to organise walks with their local communities.
Mr Coates, from Cardiff, said: “The walks made me feel at home, like I’m in a safe space.
“There is an element of brotherhood and strength in numbers and I need it back in my life to keep me in the good place that I’m thankfully in now after facing a difficult period of depression.”
Dog Dude Nick Poulton, 45, from south Oxfordshire, said the pandemic has been a “frustrating and difficult” period for his group.
He said: “The walks will be a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel for people waiting at home.
“It’s going to be hard because it will feel like a huge deal getting back to normality and I know people are very nervous about that.”
Mr Osman said many of the men he works with have been suicidal and rely on the network, so he welcomed the group’s relaunch in when restrictions on outdoor activities in England are relaxed.
“If I look at our community a lot of them also suffer with anxiety so we need to get them out as soon as possible so that they can talk again.”
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