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Pub sets up men’s only mental health group to combat age-old stereotypes

PUBLISHED: 18:15 26 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:15 26 September 2020

Penny Youngs-Debnam and Dwayne Debnam, landlords of The Kingfisher pub in Chantry, have rented an allotment to help start a new group which supports men with mental ill health. With them is Rex Manning. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Penny Youngs-Debnam and Dwayne Debnam, landlords of The Kingfisher pub in Chantry, have rented an allotment to help start a new group which supports men with mental ill health. With them is Rex Manning. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Archant 2020

A popular Ipswich pub has set up a new group in the hopes of getting more men to discuss their mental health.

Penny Youngs-Debnam and Dwayne Debnam have started the new group at Chantry's Kingfisher pub. With them is Rex Manning, who will be part of the group overhauling an allotment. Picture: SONYA DUNCANPenny Youngs-Debnam and Dwayne Debnam have started the new group at Chantry's Kingfisher pub. With them is Rex Manning, who will be part of the group overhauling an allotment. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

The Kingfisher pub in Chantry set up the group earlier this month in a bid to combat stereotypes that men should not open up about their emotions and insecurities.

Landlady Penny Youngs-Debnam said she was inspired to start the group after seeing an increasing number of customers approach her for mental health advice – exacerbated by the coronavirus lockdown.

Mrs Youngs-Debnam, who has previously stayed up as late as 5am to talk with customers about their problems, said: “Running a pub, I often get men speak to me and open up about what is going on in their lives.

“So many of them say they can’t speak to their partners or their friends as all they tell them to do is to ‘man up’ or to ‘get on with it’.

“Even during lockdown I noticed my husband wasn’t feeling himself and it made me think about how many other men may be feeling that way.”

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Mrs Youngs-Debnam then contacted Ipswich MP Tom Hunt for support to help start the group, and approached friends Donna, Emma, Sianne and Rex to help run it.

Now with 13 members, the group is starting its own allotment, which it hopes to use as a source of therapy for the men, while also using it to grow food to cook at meetings or sell to raise money.

“When you work, you forget about things,” Mrs Youngs-Debnam added. “And when you really get into it, you start talking.

“If we can get a group of men together, working, chatting and having a cuppa then they can start to rely on each other.

“If we can only help one person, then that’s all that matters in this moment in time.

“Men are ‘meant’ to be these superior creatures, the ones who provide and look after others – and for so many men they feel weak when they say they are suffering.

“We need to get that message out there that they aren’t weak. It is ok to feel low, to struggle.”

Those who wish to join the group, or who have any tools and equipment they would like to donate to the allotment, can find more information on the pub’s Facebook page.


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