A new initiative aimed at men and their best friends has been launched by avid dog walker and link worker for the Ballincollig Family Resource Centre (FRC) Community Referral Project Brian McMahon.
The Dudes and Dogs initiative will see men meet up each Saturday at Ballincollig Regional Park to walk their dogs and chat to one another in a safe space in which they can open up post-Covid lockdown.
The initiative is being run in conjunction with Healthy Ireland who have supplied merchandise including reflective jackets which will be available for everyone who registers.
The idea came about as part of Ballincollig FRC’s referral project which helps people who are socially isolated or who might be dealing with low-level anxiety or mental health issues to link into activities in the area.
The free service is aimed at people who are struggling and accepts referrals from a GP or other health practitioner as well as self-referrals.
Link worker Brian McMahon told The Echo that the initiative was set up as a means for men to release after lockdown and have a safe space to talk while showing off their four-legged friends.
“Right now we can’t do much indoors. People have been locked down for such a long time so it’s to reignite positivity. It’s a release after lockdown because people might be feeling anxious and might be going through difficult times. They might need a listening ear or think that their problems don't matter but this gives them an introduction to sociability.
“There’s not many things being run for men. Women might be more inclined to meet up and have a chat whereas the dog element is something we built so they can meet up and show off their dog,” he said.
The leisurely walk around the park will be dependent on people’s mobility levels and a dog is not required to take part.
“If you were to join a normal walking group, you’re not allowed to have dogs because somebody who might be attending to go for a walk might be afraid of dogs so by basing the groups on Dudes and Dogs, you can still come along without a dog but you know there’s going to be dogs there.
“More often than not households get the dog and it’s up to dad to walk the dog. After lockdown there’s a few people who have dogs who never intended to have a dog so you’re creating a new social outlet for them too,” Mr McMahon said.
The meet up will take place each Saturday at the Allotments entrance to Ballincollig Regional Park at Innishmore at 10am from Saturday, July 11.
Interest can be registered by contacting Brian McMahon by phone on 085 879 3462 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are currently health and wellbeing programmes running in various different areas across Cork including out of Ballincollig, Togher/Ballyphehane Family Centre, Mallow Le Cheile and Midleton Family Resource Centre which covers Youghal.