LAUNCH OF COUNTRYMEN UK CLUBS, SUPPORTING MEN WITH HEALTH ISSUES TO ACCESS SUPPORT

A care farm in North Devon is among the first to become part of Countrymen UK.

Futures Farm in Woolacombe is looking for members to join a brand-new venture designed to allow men with health issues to access support services in an environment they understand and can relate to.

The farm has become part of Countrymen UK, a registered charity with an exciting new nationwide initiative providing a unique solution designed to support the increasing isolation of men who find themselves unable to access outdoor work and leisure environments because of their deteriorating physical or mental health or changing social conditions.

The countrywide launch of Countrymen Clubs aims to help men become more resilient to the life changes they experience as a result of rural isolation and ageing. The Clubs are particularly keen to recruit older men who have long-term health conditions including Dementia, Parkinson’s and other limiting long-term illnesses, but are open to men of all ages who experience rural isolation and deteriorating physical or mental health. Typically the men will have an affinity with the outdoors and may have worked in farming, horticulture or in other outdoor environments.

The idea behind Countrymen UK is for all men, regardless of their mobility or cognitive levels, to have the opportunity to participate in healthy, active and social activities in a safe and supported countryside or farm environment to the benefit of their physical and mental wellbeing.

Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, more than a dozen Care Farms and Gardens across the UK have signed up to become Countrymen UK Social Franchises and are aiming to recruit members, together with volunteers, to their newly formed Countrymen UK Clubs.

The Countrymen UK Clubs were developed as a result of an initiative by Future Roots – an organisation which runs programmes in Dorset for both young people and adults. It is part of the ‘care farming’ movement, which aims to harness the therapeutic potential of farming practices.

Future Roots and Countrymen UK founder Julie Plumley explains, “The unique combination of activities taking place outdoors reflects our belief, underpinned by recent research*, that getting back to farm and countryside environments and green spaces, overcomes isolation and has a positive impact on physical health and mental wellbeing.”

The Clubs also help the wives and carers of the members, providing an opportunity for respite as well as the chance to socialise and gain mutual support from one another.

One Countryman, Dan Hodgeson, commented, “I was depressed and isolated. I missed the life I once had in the countryside and had little contact with people outside my family. That’s all changed now. I love being outside again. It brings back memories. It’s become a new adventure for me – a healthy adventure. And I’m surrounded by people who share my interests.”

Countrymen UK Clubs run several sessions every month throughout the year. Some members attend only one session, while others attend multiple sessions – it’s entirely up to them and a small charge is made for each session.

For more information about Countrymen UK go to www.countrymenuk.org or email: admin@countrymenuk.org or tel: 01963 210789.