Outdoors can be an oasis for growth

Men up north thumbs up
Men up north (2)
Men up north on the allotment.

Story by Adam Thornton | Photos by Angga Kara and Adam Thornton

Men Up North are a group of men who have come together to normalise honest conversations on male mental health and masculinity in the North of England.

What we share is the innate understanding of the familiar experiences and modern day challenges which we face as men. And it is this that enables us to relate to another man with empathy.

It is liberating, and very good for a man’s mental health! Until coronavirus and lockdown kicked in, Men Up North would have our informal meet-ups in rooms on The Moor.

However, with coronavirus, we moved our meetups online we realised that this can still be isolating. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend talking with people on video calls, it can never replace being in the company of others.

I’m not sure whose idea it was to enquire about the allotment at Grimesthorpe, but it was truly an inspired moment.

It’s a great location, everyone who we’ve spoken with has been so welcoming and helpful, from Green City Action who helped right from the start, our allotment plot neighbours who donated loads of strawberry plants and great advice to the locals who give us a smile.

There is most definitely something very right about an allotment plot for a group of men. Getting some honest physical work done on the land.

Not only do we have our own private spot, outside in the fresh air, but it became a focal point for many of us and complement our online discussions. Despite the onset of winter there’s plenty being done.

Together we’ve been planting, trimming, cutting back, burning, horse manure fetching, and, best of all, growing.

Men up north man gives a thumbs up.
Men up north man gives a thumbs up.