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Men's Group take on epic cycle ride to raise awareness of mental health

Chantry Library’s Men’s Group will be undertaking an epic 300-mile cycle between all 44 of the county’s libraries to help raise funds for Suffolk Libraries and raise awareness of Mental Health Awareness Week.

The Men Can Talk social group at Chantry Library was started to raise awareness of the importance of men seeking mental health and wellbeing support to help end the stigma around men's mental health.

Corrin Eaton and the team will embark on a three-day biking and camping round-trip adventure from Chantry Library on Saturday 7 May, visiting all of Suffolk’s libraries and finishing back at Chantry Library on Monday 9 May.

The event is taking place at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May), with this year's theme being loneliness. The sponsored event aims to draw attention to the many ways in which the work of Suffolk Libraries helps to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing and tackle loneliness in the community.

Corrin Eaton, who will be undertaking the challenge, said:

“I’d been coming to the library for a while and started chatting to Vicki the library manager about the idea of a men’s group. I’ve found it very rewarding and emotional. We have about 8 people coming regularly and the group means a lot to me now.

“We wanted to take on a fundraising challenge to help keep it going and to help Suffolk Libraries to run activities like this which make a difference. I didn’t realise how much libraries do for the community and how important fundraising is. I know from experience now how important they are.

“We discussed the idea of doing as many miles as we could on an exercise bike and rowing machine in the library. I then had an even crazier idea – we worked out how many miles there were between all the libraries in Suffolk so I thought, why not take on a cycling challenge across Suffolk?

“I compete professionally in martial arts but my gym is in London so I’m missing it and needed a new challenge, a new fight. This is my new fight! It’ll be tough but I’ve got a good team behind me and I’m looking forward to it!”

Vicki Mann, Chantry Library Manager, helped to set up the Men’s Group at the library and is a passionate believer in the role of libraries in tackling mental health issues. She said:

“It’s lovely to see how far the group has grown and how supportive the men have been for each other. The feedback we get is amazing! The group is very diverse and the men are all at different stages in life and different ages. I was told that one member really looked up to an older gentleman as he was someone he could learn from as a role model. It has also been very insightful to read some comments to how men really feel and how society can have an impact on male wellbeing.

"This is just one example of the many ways we can help people at just one of our libraries. What we do can have a very positive impact on people’s wellbeing and I hope people will support Corrin and his team so Suffolk Libraries can do even more to help people.”

Alex Hammond, one of the group members and part of the team supporting Corrin’s fundraising challenge, added:

“The group has changed my life, it’s a place I go every week to try and give back to the community. It’s a safe space that is open for all men who might need a helping hand or a place to talk. The group is a place where you can say what you feel without being judged and you can be yourself.”

Suffolk Libraries is very grateful for sponsors Inchcape BMW Ipswich for providing the support vehicle, and to The Hollies in Kessingland and Ling's Meadow in Diss for providing camping pitches.

You can support Corrin's journey by donating to our People's Fundraising page. You can also visit Chantry Library to add miles and donations by joining in on the ride using the exercises bikes at the library.