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Man Club founder says support groups need funding to decrease suicide rate in Kent

The founder of a men's support group who lost three friends to suicide in 18 months is calling for more investment in preventative services.

Mark Greening, from Kingsgate, Broadstairs, started Man Club in Thanet after the triple tragedy.

Mark travelled to Bracknell to have a coffee with Andy
Mark travelled to Bracknell to have a coffee with Andy

After inviting local men along to a meet-up at Garlinge Methodist Church hall in Margate, it became clear there was a demand for support groups in other areas.

Since the first group started in July around 300 men have attended.

There are now weekly groups in Margate, Ramsgate, Herne Bay and Whitstable, with a fifth starting in Deal next week.

According to Mark, support groups like his should be funded by councils to stop men from getting to the point where they might consider suicide.

The 34-year-old said: "I'm of the mentality that if you do things at an earlier stage, you don't need to keep chucking money at crisis teams, apps and helplines.

Mark pictured with his daughter
Mark pictured with his daughter

"I work for the council, so I know what public services are like and they're very reactive."

He added: "No-one really wants to admit they're in crisis.

"We need things that make it a bit easier for the everyday guy before they get to a crisis point."

Mark said the low set-up cost of his groups means lots of men are able to find support without lots of cash and salaries needing to be paid.

With the quick growth of Man Club since last summer, early members of the group are now helping Mark run the sessions.

"No-one really wants to admit they're in crisis..."

Mark is keen to urge other men in the area to join if they have things they want to get off their chests.

He said: "Come along and listen to other people, see that there's other people in your position.

"I always say to them if they're not confident to speak straight away then just have a listen, and once they hear other people speak it's contagious and they end up having a bit of a chitchat."

Last week, Mark took a 200-mile round trip to Berkshire to meet a man for coffee who was in need of help.

Andy found himself isolated and wanted to advertise a group in Bracknell for men to talk to each other, but was frustrated when nobody turned up.

Eventually Mark wants to be able to cover the whole of Kent
Eventually Mark wants to be able to cover the whole of Kent

Seeing the success of Man Club, Andy reached out to Mark, who made the decision to drive down and have a chat face-to-face.

Mark said: "It was a bit of a journey to make, especially when some people won't even walk down the road to have a chat with someone."

Office for National Statistics figures released last year show more than 130 people died by suicide in Kent in 2018 - and show which boroughs in the county were worst affected.

Medway (19) and then Thanet (18) had the highest level of suicides recorded by the coroner in 2018, while the lowest number, eight, was shared between Ashford, Maidstone, Sevenoaks and Tonbridge and Malling.

Kent County Council's director of public health Andrew Scott-Clark said: "Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy and a huge personal cost to friends, family and the community of the person who has died.


"Most lives lost to suicide can be prevented. Every life lost to suicide is one death too many in Kent and at long last, the long term trend appears to be down but we will not be complacent - we believe that initiatives like the free online training can only help to decrease it further and save lives.”

KCC is part of the Release the Pressure campaign, encouraging people to access expert help 24-hours a day, 365 days a year on 08001070160 or through a webchat, here.

To find out more about Man Club, click here.

For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.

If you want to talk to someone confidentially, click here.


Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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