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Newcastle charity’s recipe for getting isolated men to talk

articleindex followcenterhttps://www.communityfoundation.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Wor-Hoose-Mens-Pie-Club.jpgcentermodule_group modules Array 1 https://www.communityfoundation.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Wor-Hoose-Mens-Pie-Club.jpg Men’s Pie Club members with the pies they created (photo taken pre-Covid)

A Newcastle charity has been engaging with men who have become disconnected from their community and helping them to make social connections through a novel approach: teaching them to make pies. The ‘Men’s Pie Club’ at the Wor Hoose Community Project in Walker ran in partnership with Food Nation Newcastle, ran for twelve weeks and was made possible thanks to a grant from the Newcastle Brown Ale Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland. 

The club was set-up as male’s only sessions to help men who were facing challenges including depression, social isolation, and low self-esteem. The informal approach enabled the men to make social connections with one another, learn and share new skills and knowledge and give them the opportunity to share a meal together or have a pie ready to take home with them. 
Su Legg, Senior Philanthropy Advisor at the Community Foundation explained how the project had impacted participants: 
“Through its work in the heart of its community Wor Hoose Community Project has been able to respond to the needs of local men suffering from poor health and struggling with loneliness; a simple concept of creating a pie club to engage these men and teach them to cook has resulted in their improved health and wellbeing”. 
The project supported fifteen men aged from 26 – 84 each Friday, none of whom had any cookery skills. It also actively identified and involved participants with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health issues. 
Liz Coates, Project Co-ordinator at Wor Hoose saw that the project provided an environment where the men could talk: 

“The men’s pie club was a successful weekly activity as it enabled us to breakdown barriers with men who were identified as isolated and lonely to come along to our project and participate in a weekly activity, to chat informally about their health and well-being, feelings and emotions, whilst learning new skills. 

“The men who attended said they enjoyed the camaraderie of the group and found it easier to talk about their feelings whilst working shoulder to shoulder creating their own hearty and comforting pies. Everyone said they enjoyed meeting up with others, having a cuppa in an inclusive men’s only space to informally have a chat and make new life-long friends”. 
The club took place prior to the Covid pandemic but its value is perhaps even more apparent now. The North East experiencethe highest rates of male suicide in the country for the second year running (Office for National Statistics, 2019) and the pandemic has only increased instances of social isolation, a significant risk factor. As the country begins to come out of lockdown over the coming weeks and months, clubs like this show the importance of giving men the opportunity to talk. 

For more information about funding opportunities at the Community Foundation visit www.communityfoundation.org.uk/apply